Ukrainian troops surround Lehman, capture Russian troops, officials say

Kyiv — Less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly announced the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, thousands of his soldiers now appear to be trapped there.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s armed forces told The Washington Post on Saturday that Ukrainian troops had surrounded Lehman, a key transportation hub in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. With Russian troops surrounded, Ukrainian soldiers are expected to regain full control of Lehman in the next few days.

In the face of widespread international condemnation, a powerful counterattack and a seemingly imminent retake of Lehman will embarrass Moscow a day after claiming swathes of eastern Ukraine as its own. While Russia celebrated the annexation with lavish ceremonies and pop concerts on Moscow’s Red Square, Ukrainian troops advanced on the city overnight.

In addition to besieging the city of Lehman, which is an important supply center on the western edge of Ukraine’s Donbas region, Ukrainian forces have recaptured four villages near Lehman, Cherevaty said.Donetsk’s pro-Kremlin separatist leader Denis Pushlin admitted on Friday The city is “semi-surrounded”, describing Kyiv’s progress as “very unpleasant news” that threatens to “overshadow” the annexation celebrations.

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unverified social media video clip Photos released Saturday by the head of Ukraine’s presidential office appeared to show Ukrainian troops carrying out their own celebrations, raising blue and yellow flags near the city’s outskirts. Another video appeared to show troops stamping on the Russian flag in the city.

Pro-Russian military bloggers also appeared to admit defeat in the city. A prominent anonymous Russian military blogger named Rybar said Saturday that Russian fighters had limited routes out of the city and that “at this stage, it is impossible to turn the situation around.”

Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin Telegram channel close to Wagner’s mercenary group reported that Russian troops in Lehman were “completely surrounded” and that “unprecedented” measures were being taken to help them free. It added that an earlier withdrawal of troops from the city was unlikely because of Putin’s annexation ceremony and speech on Friday.

The battle is a test for Putin, who has vowed to treat attacks on annexed areas as attacks on Russia. While Lehmann’s loss “severely damages the reputation of the Russian Federation,” Rybal wrote, the fact that the accession treaty has not yet been finally rubber-stamped and ratified by the Russian parliament makes the situation unclear.

Thousands of Russian troops are stationed in the city, therefore “Almost all means of delivering ammunition to the Russians” were blocked, said Shershi Hayday, the governor of the Luhansk region. The Washington Post was unable to independently verify his claims. Haidai bluntly stated that the trapped Russian troops had three options: try to escape, surrender or risk being killed.

The city, which was home to more than 20,000 people in the Donetsk region before the war, was one of four territories Russia illegally claimed to absorb this week. A victory would mark Ukraine’s most significant success in the Donbas region, where Russia concentrated most of its forces in the spring.Hello The city of Kremina, near east of Leman in the Luhansk region, will be Ukraine’s next military target.

Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the nation that the army had achieved “substantial results” in the east, citing Lehmann as a key example of thanks to the fighters there. “These steps mean a lot to us,” he added in his evening speech.

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Ukrainian military spokesman Cherevati told The Washington Post earlier this week that “almost all logistical routes” to the Lehman region are under Ukrainian control.

This tactic, known as kettling, involved troops encircling a city, leaving the occupied forces with little to no evacuation strategy other than surrender. Towns and villages in the eastern Donbas region tend to have few roads in and out, making invading forces unfamiliar with the region particularly vulnerable, as they may not be aware of any alternative paths.

A member of the Ukrainian military shared a video with The Washington Post that appeared to show a line of destroyed Russian vehicles that may have tried to flee Lehman after Ukrainian troops had shut down. The video shows the bodies of Russian soldiers lying on the side of the road.

Despite a patriotic pomp at Friday’s grand treaty signing ceremony, claiming the annexation of parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions to Russia, Putin is at home because of his Faced with criticism over the military mobilization, thousands scrambled to the border to avoid being called up in the war. He has also been criticized for losing ground in northern Ukraine.

Ukrainian separatist leader Oleg Tsarov famous On Twitter, Lehmann’s situation was a “poor backdrop” for annexation celebrations. Losing Lehmann could also reinforce the idea that annexation may not reflect local realities, as Russian forces do not fully control any of the four regions and thus have fragile military control over them.

Still, Putin made clear in a scathing speech on Friday that he intends to make annexed lands and populations part of Russia “forever”.

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He has previously said any attack on annexed territories would be considered an attack on Russia and threatened to defend them “with all means at our disposal” – raising the stakes with the possible use of nuclear weapons. On Friday, he made an ominous reference to the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, as a “precedent” for the use of destructive weapons.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, Mikhailo Podoljak, an adviser to President Zelensky, likened the siege of Lehman to the siege of the Donetsk city of Ilovask by Russian troops in 2014.Then, “Our men agreed to surrender without arms. But Russia broke its promise. The pillar was shot, hehe wrote on Twitter. He added that the situation had been reversed today and that the Russian army had to “request a withdrawal from Lehman”.

Kostiantyn Khudov in Kyiv contributed to this report. Suliman reported from London. Dixon reported from Riga.

Ukraine war: what you need to know

Newest: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday to annex four occupied parts of Ukraine after a referendum held widely denounced as illegal. Follow us here for live updates.

response: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia in response to the annexation, targeting government officials and families, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said on Friday that Ukraine was applying for “accelerated accession” to NATO, in an apparent response to annexation.

In Russia: Putin announced a military mobilization on September 9. 21st to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to dramatically reverse his setback in the Ukraine war. The announcement led to the exodus of more than 180,000 people, mostly men serving in the military, and reignited protests and other anti-war behavior.

Fight: Ukraine launched a successful counteroffensive, forcing Russia to conduct a massive retreat in the northeastern region of Kharkiv in early September, as troops fled the cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned vast quantities of military equipment.

photo: Photographers for The Washington Post have been on the ground since the war began — some of their most influential work.

How you can help: Here’s how Americans can support the people of Ukraine, and people around the world have been giving.

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