According to a Russian news agency, Russian troops have withdrawn from the city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine due to the risk of being encircled by Ukrainian forces.
Lyman is in occupied Donetsk, one of the regions of Ukraine annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a ceremony in Moscow on Friday.
Mr Putin had previously threatened to retaliate if Russia was attacked.
Earlier, a spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern forces said that Ukrainian forces had entered Lyman after encircling thousands of Russian troops.
It prompted Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechnya region and Putin’s ally, to say that Moscow should consider using low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine as a result of the defeat on the battlefield.
It took place against the backdrop of Ukrainian forces attempting to advance and also hold back Russian troops in other parts of Donetsk, including in Bakhmut.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US NGO that is monitoring the situation in Ukraine, highlighted Lyman’s impending demise on Thursday, saying commentators online Russian society has posted their concerns that the Ukrainian military. proceed to the west, north and northeast of the town.
Looks like the siege of the town was almost completed by early Saturday.
The ISW said on Thursday: “The collapse of the Lyman pocket will likely have major consequences for Russia’s regrouping north of Donetsk and west of Luhansk and could allow the Ukrainian military to threaten its positions. Russia along the western border of Luhansk Oblast and in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area.”
Video posted by Ukraine Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko shows what he says is a Russian convoy destroyed as it tries to leave Lyman.
Sky News has not verified the footage.
Lyman served for several months as a logistics and transportation hub for Russian operations.
Its loss was seen as a major setback for Moscow, a day after Mr Putin announced the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
In a Telegram post criticizing Russian commanders for abandoning the eastern Ukrainian town of Lyman on Saturday, Mr Kadyrov wrote: “In my personal opinion, decisive measures should be taken. even more intense, even with the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons”.
Another video posted by Ukraine’s Presidential Chief of Staff Volodymyr Zelenskyy shows two grinning Ukrainian soldiers pasting the yellow and blue national flags onto the “Lyman” welcome sign at the entrance to the town.
One of the soldiers said: “October 1. We are planting our state flag and setting it up on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine.”
A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern forces said Russia has between 5,000 and 5,500 troops in Lyman, but the number of troops under siege could be lower as Russia has suffered some casualties.
Lyman’s fall would be Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since last month’s flashy counter-offensive in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, which left Russia reeling.
Ukrainian military spokesman Serhii Cherevatyi said on television that Lyman’s capture would allow Kyiv to enter the Luhansk region, which Moscow claims to have captured in its entirety by early July.
Mr. Cherevatyi said: “Lyman is very important because this is the next step to liberate the Donbas of Ukraine. It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Severodonetsk, and it is very important psychologically.”
The governor of Luhansk of Ukraine, which is largely occupied by Moscow forces, said on Telegram that any besieged Russian has “three options … try to escape, die together, or head first.” row”.
Serhiy Haidai said: “The ability to deliver ammunition to the Russians to the besieged city or the peaceful exit from the settlement was blocked.”
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions together make up the larger Donbas region, where some of the heaviest fighting has taken place since Moscow’s invasion on February 24.