Ukrainian forces push Russian troops out of key city in latest blow to Putin’s campaign

Ukrainian forces push Russian troops out of key city in latest blow to Putin’s campaign

Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian troops out of the key strategic city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, the country’s defence ministry has said.

In yet another blow to Vladimir Putin’s campaign, a major counteroffensive in the area has seen Ukrainian troops re-enter the eastern stronghold which is is 100 miles south-east of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

“In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines,” the Russian defence ministry said on Saturday.

Ukrainian officials said Saturday their forces had surrounded some 5,000 Russian forces who were trying to hold the eastern city, which is located in Luhansk, one of the four annexed areas.

Andriy Yermak, Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff, posted a video online on Saturday purporting to show Ukrainian soldiers at a monument on the outskirts of the city, waving a signed Ukrainian flag.

Lyman, a key transportation hub, had been an important site in the Russian front line for both ground communications and logistics.

The Ukrainian military spokesperson said the capture of the city would allow Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk region, whose full capture Moscow announced at the beginning of July after weeks of slow, grinding advances.

“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.

In tandem with taking of Lyman, an explosion has rocked a Russian airbase in the Crimea.

Although the cause of the blast has not yet been established, Russian officials claimed it was caused by a munitions explosion detonated on a miliatry plane.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties but video footage on social media showed tourists look on from the popular Russian holiday destination as smoke billowed into the sky.

Due to the latest military setback, Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's region of Chechnya, has insisted that the Kremlin should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

As Russia confirmed the loss of its stronghold of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, Mr Kadyrov slammed top commanders for their failings and wrote on Telegram: "In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons."

He was speaking a day after Mr Putin proclaimed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions and placed them under Russia's nuclear umbrella, saying Moscow would defend the lands it had seized "with all our strength and all our means".