Ukrainian forces have succeeded in completely encircling the strategic eastern town of Lyman, which was previously captured by Russian invaders on 27 May. Thousands of Russian troops are now believed to be trapped in the city after several abortive attempts to break through the Ukrainian assault.
Lyman is home to a major railway junction, providing important access to the rest of Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast. Further territorial losses in Donetsk pose a major problem for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who formally announced the annexation of the entirety of the Donetsk region. In reality, Russia does not control large swathes of the Donetsk region and is rapidly losing territory to Ukrainian advances.
For Russian forces, the town served as an important logistics hub for coordinating its forces across the northern front of the Donbas theatre of combat. According to Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s forces in the east, recapturing the city is an important step in Ukraine’s campaign to retake territory.
“Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas. It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk, and it is psychologically very important,” he said.
There are believed to be up to 5,500 Russian troops trapped by Ukraine's encirclement, with much fewer in active combat due to heavy casualties and unsuccessful breakout attempts. “Some are surrendering, they have lots of killed and wounded, but the operation is not yet over,” Chervatyi said.
Ukrainian troops have entered Lyman pic.twitter.com/gmkcfULjp2— Illia Ponomarenko🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) October 1, 2022
Russian military commentators have conceded that Ukrainian forces had already entered the town. Unverified videos on Twitter appear to show the Ukrainian forces raising their flag above the entrance to the town.
Elsewhere in the region, Ukrainian forces have made gains near Kupiansk on the eastern bank of Oskil River in the Kharkiv Oblast following a lightning offensive last month, which captured over 6,000 kilometres squared of land.