Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Lyman, a key town located in one of four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia, had been “cleared” of Moscow’s troops.
The latest development in Ukraine’s weeks-long counter-offensive against Moscow’s invasion comes as Russia pushed forward with finalising the annexation of captured Ukrainian territories despite condemnation from Kyiv and the West.
The recapture of Lyman — which Moscow’s forces pummelled for weeks to control earlier this year — marks the first Ukrainian military victory in a territory the Kremlin has claimed as its own and vowed to defend by all possible means.
Ukraine’s army said it had entered Lyman, a strategic railway hub in the eastern Donetsk region, on Saturday, prompting Moscow to announce the “withdrawal” of its troops from the town towards “more favourable lines”.
The recapture of Lyman had become the most popular story in the media, Zelensky noted in his Sunday evening address. “But the successes of our soldiers are not limited to Lyman,” he added.
The previous day he had pledged to retake more areas in the country’s eastern Donbas region within the week.
“Now I am optimistic and very motivated,” a 33-year-old Ukrainian soldier using the nom de guerre “Smoke”, told AFP after returning from near Lyman.
“I see the activity on the front line, and how foreign weapons… help us take our lands back.”
Kyiv got a further boost Sunday when Berlin said Germany, Denmark and Norway would deliver 16 armoured howitzer artillery systems from 2023.
The three NATO members had agreed to jointly finance the procurement of the Slovakian Zuzana-2 guns, the German defence ministry said, although the announcement falls short of Kyiv’s demands for Germany’s Leopard battle tanks.