Ukraine says it surrounded thousands of Russian troops in annexed region

The Ukrainian army entered Lyman, a strategic city in eastern Ukraine, in the Donetsk region on Saturday, whose annexation the day before by Moscow was strongly condemned by kyiv and the West.

Welcoming this important tactical victory, as Lyman is a crucial railway junction, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured that next week “new Ukrainian flags will fly over Donbass”, where the Donetsk region is located.

Then he launched, addressing Russian soldiers and officials and referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin: « Until all of you solve the problem of who started it all, who started this senseless war against Ukraine, you will be killed one by one, becoming scapegoats, because you do not admit that this war is a historic mistake for Russia”.

kyiv also castigated the « illegal detention » of the boss of the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant (south), arrested for a reason still unknown on Friday by Russia, which controls the site.

The capture of Lyman was announced in the middle of the afternoon: “Ukrainian air assault forces are entering Lyman, Donetsk region,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.

In a one-minute video that accompanies the message, two Ukrainian soldiers are seen waving and then hanging the light blue and yellow national flag next to the « Lyman » sign at the entrance to the city.

“Threatened to be surrounded, the allied troops were withdrawn from Lyman towards more favorable lines”, for its part indicated in a press release the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Earlier on Saturday, the Ukrainian army claimed to have « encircled » several thousand Russian soldiers in this city in the Donetsk region, annexed by Russia on Friday.

Reacting to the Russian withdrawal from the city, the leader of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, denounced the « nepotism » reigning in the Russian army and called on Moscow to use « low-power nuclear weapons » in Ukraine, without taking “account of the + western-american community +”.

International Court of Justice

Following the annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Moscow, kyiv announced to seize the International Court of Justice (ICJ), urging it « to take up the case as soon as possible ».

Friday evening, Vladimir Putin had for his part concluded a day of ceremonies for the annexation of Ukrainian territories.

« Victory will be ours, » he said, microphone in hand, in front of several thousand people gathered for a concert in Red Square in Moscow.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak quipped on Twitter on Saturday: “20 hours ago in Red Square, Russian leaders were singing ‘hooray’ because of the annexation of new territories. […] Reality can hurt when you live in an imaginary world”.

« Illegal detention »

Leaders of European Union countries issued a statement on Friday « rejecting » and « condemning » the « illegal annexation » of Ukraine’s four regions.

These annexations make « much more difficult, almost impossible, the end of the war », estimated Saturday the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, calling on Europe to strengthen its military arsenal, « it is necessary, essential for the survival”.

“Russia is losing” the war, “it has lost it in moral and political terms”, but “Ukraine has not yet won”, he judged.

NATO denounced ‘illegitimate’ annexation, while in New York the UN Security Council considered a resolution condemning ‘pseudo-annexations’ in Ukraine, which was immediately blocked by a Russian veto .

US President Joe Biden has vowed that the United States and its allies will not be « bullied » by Mr Putin.

On the ground, 24 civilians including 13 children were found dead, shot dead in their cars near Kupiansk, in northeastern Ukraine, said Saturday the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Synegoubov. AFP had seen at least 11 people dead on Friday at the site.

And according to Oleksandr Starukh, head of the military administration of the Zaporizhia region, the death toll from the strike that targeted a line of cars in the transit center of this southern Ukrainian city on Friday rose to 31 (30 civilians and a policeman) with the death of an injured woman.

Ukraine also condemned the « illegal detention » of the general manager of the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant, Igor Murachov, arrested for a reason still unknown on Friday by Russia, which controls the site.

According to the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom, Mr. Murachov was arrested by a « Russian patrol » as he went from the plant to the town of Ernogodar, controlled by the Russians.

In Germany, a spokesman for the company operating the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany told AFP that it no longer leaked under the Baltic Sea.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 infrastructures, built to bring Russian gas to Europe, were damaged by underwater explosions off a Danish island in the Baltic Sea on Monday, causing widespread boiling.

In addition, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, her first since the start of the Russian invasion.

Ms Lambrecht traveled to the port city of Odessa, in southern Ukraine, where she notably met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiï Reznikov.

Ukrainian leaders have been asking the German government for several weeks to authorize the delivery of modern combat tanks likely to make a difference against Russian troops.

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