Here’s why Russia’s retreat from Lyman matters | The New York Times

by UKCHP_Admin

Russia’s retreat from Lyman on Saturday leaves its troops in the country’s east in an increasingly perilous position.

The battle for the town was a continuation of Ukraine’s northeastern offensive in September, which routed Russian forces from cities, towns and dozens of villages and recaptured more than a thousand square miles of territory in the Kharkiv region. The lightning victory there severed most supply lines to Lyman, where Russian forces relied on a north-south rail line that is now mostly under Ukrainian control.

With a prewar population of around 20,000 people, Lyman sits on the northeastern banks of the Siversky Donets, a meandering river that has served as a natural division between Russian and Ukrainian front lines since Russian forces captured the city in May.

Now that Ukrainian forces have retaken the city, they will have a solid foothold on the northeastern side of the river that they can use to advance farther east, applying pressure on the Russian front lines that formed following their recent defeats around Kharkiv.

The battle for Lyman was hard fought. In recent days and weeks Ukrainian forces closed in from the south and west. With bridges across the Siversky Donets under frequent shelling, Ukraine relied on boats to move troops and casualties to and away from the front. Dense forest near Lyman proved a confusing nightmare for both sides.

Initially, recapturing the city was thought to be easy, according to Ukrainian commanders, but as days turned to weeks, Russian forces reinforced Lyman with troops that had fled from Kharkiv and elsewhere in Ukraine’s east, known as the Donbas.

On Saturday, Russian authorities said its forces had retreated to a more advantageous position, effectively surrendering the town.

Seizing the mineral-rich Donbas region for Russia has been one of President Vladimir V. Putin’s primary war aims since his forces invaded Ukraine in February.

On Friday, he announced the official annexation of four regions in Ukraine — including the entirety of the Donbas and the two Kremlin-backed breakaway republics there that were formed in 2014. Mr. Putin has claimed that any attack on the annexed territory would amount to an attack on Russia, and he has threatened to escalate the war further, potentially with nuclear weapons.



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