Sat, 01 Oct 2022 10:39 PM IST | Source: REUTERS
Russia said on Saturday its troops had withdrawn from the town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine to avoid being surrounded by Ukraine's army.
"In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines," the defence ministry said, using the Russian name of the town.
Ukraine's capture of Lyman, which has served for months as a logistics and transport hub for Russian operations, marked a major defeat for Moscow, a day after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions. These include Donetsk, where Lyman is located.
The ministry said in a statement that Russia had inflicted serious losses on the Ukrainian forces by launching "massive fire strikes" against them. It did not provide evidence, and the claim could not be independently verified.
"Despite the losses suffered, the enemy, having a significant superiority in forces and means, introduced reserves and continued the offensive in this direction," it said.
Earlier, Ukrainian forces entered the eastern stronghold of Lyman on Saturday after encircling thousands of Russian troops, Kyiv said, in a battlefield rebuttal to the Kremlin a day after it proclaimed a swathe of its territory part of Russia. The capture of Lyman would be a major setback for Moscow after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the Donetsk region, along with three other regions, at a ceremony on Friday that was condemned by Kyiv and the West as a farce.
"We're already in Lyman, but there are battles," Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine's eastern forces, said. Two grinning Ukrainian soldiers taped the yellow-and-blue national flag on to the "Lyman" welcome sign at the town's entrance in Donetsk region's north, a video posted by the president's chief of staff showed. "Oct. 1. We're unfurling our state flag and establishing it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine," one of the soldiers said, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.Russia had 5,000 to 5,500 troops at Lyman but the number of encircled troops could be lower because of casualties, Cherevatyi said.
"The Russian grouping in the area of Lyman is surrounded," the spokesperson, he said on television. The Russian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Russia's last operational update was on Friday evening. On Saturday, the ministry's Telegram channel published a series of congratulatory messages, including one from Putin, to mark an army holiday, Ground Forces Day.