Ukraine regains control of key eastern city Lyman
Ukraine regained control of Lyman, a key transportation hub in the country’s east that is part of a region Russia annexed on Friday.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Sunday said the city is “fully cleared of the Russian occupiers” after videos posted to social media show Ukrainian soldiers making gains on the city and flying the Ukrainian flag after pushing out Russian forces.
Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor of the Luhansk region, confirmed the news on Twitter.
“#Lyman has been completely cleaned,” he wrote. “We are waiting for beginning of large-scale process of deoccupation of #Luhansk region #UkraineRussianWar.”
The liberation of the town comes one day after Russia formally annexed four regions in Ukraine, a major escalation in the seven-month war.
Prior to the war, more than 20,000 people lived in Lyman, a city located in the Donetsk region that Russia annexed.
The city’s fall is the latest embarrassment for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also recently faced territorial losses primarily in Ukraine’s northeast as part of a counteroffensive.
Putin in recent days called up 300,000 reservists to bolster Russian forces as the country also threatened using nuclear weapons.
He set up a referendum in the four regions asking residents if they wanted to join Russia as a pretext for the annexations. The referendum was condemned by the West and Ukraine as a sham.
“Russia has staged a farce in Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Saturday.
“An absolute farce, which it wanted to present as an alleged referendum,” Zelensky continued. “They depicted something there, drove machine gunners around the houses, carried pieces of paper, the propagandists filmed all this in the part of Donbas they controlled. And now a Ukrainian flag is there.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Saturday said they spoke with their Ukrainian counterparts about the annexation effort, both condemning them as “illegal” and “illegitimate.”
“The Secretary reiterated President Biden’s message that the United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and that we will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically,” the State Department said in a readout of Blinken’s call.
President Biden on Friday signed a government spending bill that included an additional $12 billion for Ukraine, adding to tens of billions in assistance already provided by the U.S. to support the Ukrainian war effort.
The Biden administration also levied new sanctions against Russian officials in response to the annexations.
“Putin’s actions are a sign he’s struggling,” Biden said on Friday. “The sham referenda he carried out and this routine he put on … the sham routine that he put on this morning showing the unity and his people holding hands together — well, the United States is never going to recognize this and frankly the world is not going to recognize it either.”