Russia withdraws troops after Ukraine encircles key city Lyman

Russia has said it has withdrawn its troops from Lyman after Ukrainian soldiers surrounded the city.

Ukrainian forces encircled the strategic eastern city of Lyman on Saturday in a counteroffensive that has humiliated the Kremlin.

Officials said on Saturday that Ukraine’s forces had surrounded some 5,000 Russian forces who were trying to hold the eastern city of Lyman, which is located in Luhansk, one of the four annexed areas.

Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, posted video online Saturday purporting to show Ukrainian soldiers at a monument on the outskirts of Lyman, waving a signed Ukrainian flag.

It remained unclear whether Ukrainian forces have entered the city itself. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai claimed that all routes to resupply Russian forces in Lyman were blocked.

Russia has not confirmed that its forces were cut off, and Russian analysts had said Moscow was sending more troops to the area.

But the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Ukraine likely will retake Lyman in the coming days.

Citing Russian reports, the institute said it appeared Russian forces were retreating from Lyman, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. That corresponds to online videos purportedly showing some Russian forces falling back.

Lyman, a key transportation hub, had been an important site in the Russian front line for both ground communications and logistics.

With that barrier overcome, Ukraine can potentially push further into the occupied Luhansk region, which is one of four regions that Russia annexed on Friday after an internationally criticised referendum vote at gunpoint.

The withdrawal comes at a pivotal moment in the war, as Vladimir Putin this week heightened his threats of nuclear force and used his most aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric to date. It is also in the face of intensified Russian bombardments after Moscow illegally annexed a swath of Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of the war.

Meanwhile in the northeast, Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of attacking a civilian evacuation convoy, killing 20 people including children. In the south, Ukraine’s nuclear power provider said Saturday that Russian forces blindfolded and detained the head of Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

Ukrainian forces encircled the strategic eastern city of Lyman on Saturday

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