Ukrainian troops encircle Lyman, trapping Russian troops, officials say

KYIV — Less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly proclaimed the unlawful annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk area, hundreds of his troops now look like trapped there.

Ukrainian forces have surrounded Lyman, a key transport hub in Donetsk, japanese Ukraine, Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukraine’s armed forces instructed The Washington Post on Saturday. With Russian forces encircled, Ukrainian troopers are actually anticipated to reestablish full management of Lyman within the coming days.

The highly effective counterattack and seemingly imminent recapture of Lyman will come as a humiliation to Moscow, a day after claiming swaths of japanese Ukraine as its personal — within the face of widespread worldwide condemnation. Ukrainian forces superior on the town in a single day whilst Russia placed on a grand ceremony and a pop concert in Moscow’s Red Square celebrating the annexation.

Cherevaty stated Ukrainian troops had recaptured 4 villages close to Lyman along with encircling the town, which is a key provide hub on the western fringe of Ukraine’s Donbas area. The pro-Kremlin separatist chief of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, acknowledged Friday that the town was “semi-encircled,” describing Kyiv’s advances as “very unpleasant news,” which threatened to “overshadow” the annexation celebrations.

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Unverified social media video footage posted by the top of the Ukrainian president’s workplace on Saturday appeared to indicate Ukrainian troops finishing up celebrations of their very own, elevating the blue and yellow flag close to the outskirts of the town. Another video appeared to indicate troops stamping on a Russian flag within the metropolis.

Pro-Russian navy bloggers additionally appeared to acknowledge defeat within the metropolis. A outstanding nameless Russian navy blogger often known as Rybar said Saturday that routes out of the town had been restricted for Russian fighters, and “at this stage, it is not possible to turn the tide.”

Meanwhile, a pro-Kremlin Telegram channel with shut ties to the Wagner mercenary group reported that Russian troops in Lyman had been “completely surrounded” with “unprecedented” measures had been underway to assist their launch.” It added that it had been not possible to withdraw troops from the town earlier due to Putin’s annexation ceremony and speech on Friday.

The battle presents a check for Putin, who has vowed to deal with assaults within the annexed areas as assaults on Russia. Although the lack of Lyman presents “serious damage to the reputation of the Russian Federation,” Rybar wrote, the actual fact the accession treaties have but to be lastly rubber-stamped and ratified by Russia’s parliament leaves the state of affairs unclear.

Thousands of Russian troops are within the metropolis, according to Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai, who stated “almost all the ways of leaving and transporting ammunition to Russians” had been blocked. The Washington Post couldn’t independently confirm his claims. Haidai added bluntly that trapped Russian troops had three choices: to attempt to escape, give up or threat being killed.

The metropolis, house to greater than 20,000 folks within the Donetsk area earlier than the battle, is likely one of the 4 territories Russia illegally claimed to soak up this week. A victory would mark Ukraine’s most important success within the Donbas area since Russia concentrated the majority of its forces there within the spring. Haidai added the close by metropolis of Kreminna to the east of Lyman, within the Luhansk area, could be Ukraine’s subsequent navy goal.

Overnight, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky instructed the nation that troops had been making “substantial results” within the east and named Lyman as a key instance, thanking fighters there. “These are steps that mean a lot to us,” he added in a nightly tackle.

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Ukrainian navy spokesman Cherevaty instructed The Post earlier this week that “almost all logistical routes” to the Lyman space had been below Ukrainian management.

This tactic, often known as kettling, entails troops surrounding a metropolis and leaving the occupied forces with few exit methods apart from give up. Towns and villages within the japanese Donbas area are inclined to have few roads that lead out and in, leaving invading troops unfamiliar with space significantly weak as a result of they doubtless have no idea any different paths out.

A member of Ukraine’s navy shared a video with The Post that appeared to indicate a destroyed column of Russian automobiles which may have tried to flee Lyman after Ukrainian forces had already closed in. In the video, our bodies of Russian troopers lie lifeless on the facet of the highway.

Despite the patriotic pageantry throughout Friday’s grand treaty signing ceremony that claimed to annex elements of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson areas into Russia, Putin is dealing with criticism at house for his navy mobilization, with hundreds of individuals scrambling to borders and fleeing to avoid being called-up within the battle. He has additionally confronted criticism for shedding floor in northern Ukraine.

Oleg Tsarov, a Ukrainian separatist chief, noted on Twitter that the state of affairs in Lyman is “a bad backdrop,” for the annexation celebrations. The lack of Lyman will even doubtless reinforce the concept the annexations could not mirror the truth on the bottom, with solely a tenuous navy maintain over them, as Russian forces don’t totally management any of the 4 areas.

Nonetheless, Putin made clear in his scathing speech on Friday that he meant for the annexed land and populations to “forever” be a part of Russia.

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He has beforehand stated that any assault on annexed territories could be considered as an assault on Russia and threatened to “use all the means at our disposal” to defend them — upping the ante of potential nuclear weapon use. On Friday, he made as an ominous reference to the United States’ atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945, calling it a “precedent” to be used of the devastating weapons.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, an adviser to President Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, likened the encirclement of Lyman to the encircling of the town of Ilovaisk in Donetsk by Russian forces in 2014. Then, “our guys agreed to surrender without weapons. But Russia broke its word. The column was shot,” he wrote on Twitter. The state of affairs right this moment had been reversed with Russian forces having “to ask for an exit from Lyman,” he added.

Kostiantyn Khudov in Kyiv contributed to this report. Suliman reported from London. Dixon reported from Riga.

War in Ukraine: What you want to know

The newest: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees Friday to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine, following staged referendums that had been extensively denounced as unlawful. Follow our live updates here.

The response: The Biden administration on Friday introduced a new round of sanctions on Russia, in response to the annexations, focusing on authorities officials and members of the family, Russian and Belarusian navy officials and protection procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky additionally stated Friday that Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO, in an obvious reply to the annexations.

In Russia: Putin declared a military mobilization on Sept. 21 to name up as many as 300,000 reservists in a dramatic bid to reverse setbacks in his battle on Ukraine. The announcement led to an exodus of more than 180,000 people, principally men who were subject to service, and renewed protests and other acts of defiance against the war.

The struggle: Ukraine mounted a successful counteroffensive that forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in early September, as troops fled cities and villages that they had occupied because the early days of the battle and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the bottom from the start of the battle — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you possibly can assist: Here are methods these within the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people in addition to what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full protection of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and unique video.

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