Ukraine’s Forces Push Forward on Two Fronts

Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times
Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times
Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

LYMAN, Ukraine – In front of the mayor’s office in Lyman lay a pile of Russian propaganda posters, apparently torn and partially burned in flames that broke out in a thin autumn drizzle Sunday.

Decorated with the white, blue and red colors of the Russian flag, they were soaked with rain. One person explains the meaning of Russian state symbols, the Russian flag and the national anthem. “Russia’s national anthem is loved in our country,” read a partially burned poster.

A day after Ukrainian forces regained control Lyman, a strategic railway hub in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, is beginning to picture the devastation caused by fleeing Russian soldiers who have occupied the city for months. In a hasty retreat, they left behind official documents, military vehicles and the bodies of their comrades.

After weeks of fierce fighting, Russian forces withdrew from Lyman on Saturday, just a day after President Vladimir V.Putin illegally declared the surrounding area part of Russia on the pretext of Ukraine. and Western allies called mock referendums in territories partly controlled by Russia. .

The fierce battle for the city was evident on Sunday afternoon. The panoramic view of the streets is a panorama of collapsed bricks and corrugated iron. A local bakery, Seagul, has become a pile of rubble. Its bread carts were still parked heavily waiting for the morning distributions that wouldn’t come.

Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

About 5,000 of the pre-war total of 22,000 were still in Lyman, police said.

Roman Plakhaniv, a lieutenant in the Kramatorsk district police force, who arrived on Sunday to patrol the city, said: “Look at the destroyed houses. “This is a nice, normal town. People from another country came and destroyed it”.

Signs of Russia’s plans to root out are numerous. Inside the town hall are notices explaining how to apply for a building permit under the occupation authority and phone numbers to call for Russian subsidies. A stamped and signed document was left on the desk announcing the “establishment of a committee to consider controversial questions in the distribution of social benefits”. It was formed on September 9.

Copies of a newspaper called the Donetsk Republic were scattered on the floor. A September 15 issue published an article titled “Defense of the Republic and Russia’s Borders” – apparently intended to assuage anxiety that the Ukrainian counter-offensive was well-founded.

The article explains: “Russian President Vladimir V. Putin stated that during the special operation, Russia will not lose its military power and will defend its sovereignty.

In one office there was a poster emblazoned with the letter Z, a symbol of the Russian invasion, that said, “We do not abandon our own.”

The only way into Lyman was muddy and rutted, across a pontoon bridge over the fast-flowing waters of the Oskil River, which the Russian army briefly managed to maintain as a defensive barrier. last month, before stepping back further.

The dense pine forest around the town had slowed and frustrated both sides in the skirmish, and now showed signs of the ferocity of artillery fire on the scattered branches. on the road. Entire villages along the route were in ruins.

At one point, the road into town passed the ruins of what appeared to be a Ukrainian attack on Russian soldiers trying to flee the city in a civilian truck. The car door was opened and sleeping bags, pads, military coats, rations, shoes and other items spilled out.

Nearby, on the side of the road, were anti-tank mines and the bodies of half a dozen Russian soldiers. A stream of Ukrainian military trucks rumbled by as a demining team checked bodies for runways, using ropes to pull and jostle them from afar in case they exploded.

When asked how the Russians died, one of the soldiers in the demining team shrugged. “They went to a foreign land,” he said.


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