Kyiv: As the fear of encirclement grew, Russian forces abandoned their bastion of Lyman in Ukraine’s east, Russia said on Saturday.
Allied forces were withdrawn from the settlement of Lyman to more advantageous lines because of the creation of the threat of encirclement,” Russia’s Ministry of Defence said.
The withdrawl of the forces, comes as a major setback for Moscow after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the Donetsk region, along with three other regions, at a ceremony on Friday that was condemned by Kyiv and the West as a farce.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya who describes himself as a footsoldier of President Putin, said he was unable to remain silent after Moscow abandoned the territory, which the Kremlin had proclaimed to be part of Russia just a day earlier.
Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its fall would be Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since a lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.