Russia says its forces have left a key town in eastern Ukraine to avoid being surrounded by the Ukrainian army, and moved to “more advantageous frontiers.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday the withdrawal from the strategic city of Lyman was “due to the risk to be encircled.”
“In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military claimed it had encircled many Russian troops in Lyman — one of the four Russian-held territories that joined the Russian Federation in a referendum on September 30. The military said Saturday it had “encircled” an estimated 5,000 Russian troops near the eastern town.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a video of soldiers holding up a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag near a sign with the town’s name.
However, the Kremlin-installed leader of Donetsk said Friday that Russian troops and their allies were holding on to Lyman with “their last strength.”
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree for the formal accession of the four regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia to the Russian Federation. Presiding over a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of the four areas at the Kremlin, Putin said people in these regions are now considered Russian citizens as they have made their choice in referendums.
The Russian president said Ukraine has to respect the will of the people. Putin also vowed to defend the Russian land with all means.