Ukraine declares full control of Lyman after Russian forces pull out

Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed his troops had liberated the key eastern city, marking an embarrassing set back for Putin

Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed Ukraine has “fully cleared” Russian forces from the key eastern city of Lyman, a day after Moscow admitted its troops had pulled out after they were encircled.

In a short video clip on his Telegram channel, Zelenskiy thanked serving Ukrainian troops for liberating Lyman. “As of 1230 [Kyiv] local time Lyman is completely cleared,” he said, adding: “Glory to Ukraine.”

Earlier the Ukrainian president said his army would continue its offensive in the south and east and would “return back” all of the territory occupied by Russia, including Crimea. He suggested Russian generals were now “biting each other” after a series of embarrassing setbacks.

Their loss of Lyman four months after Russian servicemen seized the city in the Donetsk oblast amounts to a humiliating moment for Vladimir Putin. On Friday, in a move rejected by the international community, he annexed Donetsk together with three other Ukrainian regions, and said they were a part of Russia “for ever”.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s armed forces would continue to advance. He predicted more “mismatches” between Putin’s rhetoric and the reality on the battlefield. Reports suggested Ukrainian troops were pushing forward from Lyman towards the cities of Svatove and Kreminna.

More #Russian flag burning in #Lyman today, with the Ukrainian colours raised outside the city's police station, and the white blue and red tricolour set alight in the courtyard

— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 2, 2022

In Lyman, Ukrainian soldiers celebrated their victory. They reclaimed the police station and burned a Russian tricolour in a courtyard. One posted a jubilant video outside the local office of Denis Pushilin, the Kremlin-appointed head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, or DNR.

Pushilin was one of four pro-Russian “leaders” who attended a ceremony in Moscow on Friday where an annexation treaty was signed, with Russia’s political elite looking on. Putin promised to use “all means” to defend the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions – an apparent threat to use nuclear weapons.

It was unclear how many Russians were killed during their chaotic retreat from Lyman. Video showed burned-out vehicles, personal belongings and dead soldiers strewn along a forest road. Ukrainian forces recovered at least one T-72 tank which had suffered minor damage.

In an intelligence briefing, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russia’s forces “probably suffered heavy casualties” as they left the city. Lyman was important because it “commands a key road crossing over the Siversky Donetsk River behind which Russia has been trying to consolidate its defences,” it added.


Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the Donbas region would carry on. “In the near future we are waiting for the start of a large-scale process of de-occupation in Luhansk oblast,” he said. Local collaborators were “panicking”, he added.

Ukraine also claimed to have liberated a village in the south of the country, where its troops have been pressing on Russian positions around the city of Kherson. Overnight they seized the village of Zolotaya Balka, next to the Dnipro River. A video shows a local resident posing with a soldier waving a Ukrainian flag.

Social media channels in Kherson reported that Ukrainian troops had also liberated the “melon” – a concrete sign celebrating the region’s most famous fruit. The melon sculpture marked the administrative border. Next to it were abandoned Russian foxholes and ammunition cases.

Russia’s defence ministry claimed its forces had destroyed seven Ukrainian artillery and missile depots in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk provinces. It said the guidance radar for a S-300 air defence missile system had also been destroyed near Nova Kaluha in the Kherson region, according to Reuters.

A video appeared online where a Ukrainian soldier stands with local residents in Zolota Balka village.

The village is in the northern part of Kherson region

The village's liberation hasn't been confirmed officially.

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) October 2, 2022

Meanwhile, after a day of silence Moscow confirmed that it had “temporarily detained” the head of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which it has occupied since March. A Russian patrol abducted Ihor Murashov on Friday afternoon while he was on his way to work.

Russia is trying to transfer the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Russian energy firm Rosatom, the head of Ukraine’s atomic energy company, Petro Kotin, has told the BBC. It is reportedly compelling employees who live in the city of Enerhodar to sign Russian contracts.

The International Atomic Energy Agency called on Russia to free Murashov. His detention posed a threat to safety and security, it said. “IAEA director general Rafael Grossi expressed the hope that Mr Murashov will return to his family safely and promptly and will be able to resume his important functions at the plant,” the agency tweeted.


Luke Harding in Kyiv

The GuardianTramp

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