Zelenskyy vows to take back more areas after pushing Russia out of Lyman – POLITICO
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pledged to retake more territory in eastern Ukraine after Kyiv forces pushed Russia out of the key town of Lyman.
« Now a Ukrainian flag is there » in Lyman, Zelenskyy said in his Saturday evening speech. “During this week there were more Ukrainian flags in the Donbass. It will be even more in a week.
Ukraine pushed Moscow forces out of Lyman on Saturday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the annexation of Donetsk, which includes the strategic city. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow on Saturday cited « a threat of encirclement » in withdrawing its troops from Lyman « to more advantageous lines », it said in a Telegram article.
Lyman’s retirement represents a big setback for Putin, as Kyiv’s counteroffensive against the Russian invasion makes further advances in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian push saw the recapture of much of Russian-occupied territory as soldiers from Moscow abandoned the front lines.
Putin on Friday proclaimed the annexation of Donetsk along with three other regions, following referendums that Western countries have declared « impostors ».
“Ukraine will give back,” Zelenskyy promised on Saturday evening. “Both in the east and in the south. And what they tried to annex now, and Crimea, which has been called annexed since 2014.”
« Our flag will be everywhere, » he said.
Lyman has been a key supply and logistics hub for Russian troops fighting in eastern Ukraine. The loss of the city will further hamper Moscow’s supply lines and hamper Russia’s ability to maneuver against a reinforced Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east that has also pushed Russian forces from the Kharkiv region.
Lyman’s takeover is « meaningful » for Ukraine because it creates more problems for the Russian military on its supply routes, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said. “And without these roads, it will be more difficult. So that presents a bit of a dilemma for the Russians going forward,” Austin told reporters in Hawaii on Saturday, Reuters reported.
« And we think the Ukrainians have done a great job of getting there and starting to occupy the city, » Austin said.
« Lyman is important because this is the next step towards the liberation of Ukrainian Donbass, » Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Forces, said on Saturday. « It’s an opportunity to go further in Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk, and that’s psychologically very important, » he said.