Ukraine is in full control of the eastern logistics hub of Lyman, Kyiv’s most significant battlefield gain in weeks, which a senior official said could provide a staging post for further gains to the east, Reuters reports.
“As of 1230 (0930 GMT), Lyman is fully cleared,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a short video clip on his Telegram channel.
There was no comment from the Russian armed forces on Sunday on the status of the city. The Russian defence ministry said on Saturday it was pulling troops out of the area “in connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement”.
The latest stinging setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin came after he proclaimed the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine on Friday, an area that includes Lyman.
Kyiv and the West have condemned the proclamation as an illegitimate farce.
Russian forces captured Lyman from Ukraine in May and had used it as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region.
Losing it is Russia’s largest battlefield loss since Ukraine’s lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region that neighbours Donetsk, said control over Lyman could help Ukraine reclaim lost territory in his region, whose full capture Moscow announced in early July after weeks of grinding advances.
“The liberation of this city in the Donetsk region is one of the key factors for the further de-occupation of the Luhansk region,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday.
Ukraine is starting to believe it can take back Crimea, according to Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s top representative in the region.
While there’s no suggestion that Ukraine is close to being in a position to regain the annexed region, Tamila Tasheva and her team spend their days discussing the logistics of what would happen should Kyiv regain control.
“This is moment X. Right now everything is happening in a way that it feels inevitable,” said Tasheva. “It may not happen tomorrow, but I think it will be much quicker than I thought a year ago.”
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The recapture of Lyman is a key factor for “further de-occupation” in the neighbouring Luhansk region, according to its Governor Serhiy Gaidai.
The comments, reported by Reuters, come after Ukrainian forces declared full control of a city located in one of the four regions annexed by Vladimir Putin on Friday.
In a move rejected by the international community, Putin annexed Donetsk together with Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk – proclaiming the quartet to be part of Russia “for ever”.
Russian forces have lost Lyman four months after first seizing the city, a move that Governor Gaidai hopes will prove pivotal for his region.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence has been discussing the military importance of Lyman, following the news that Russia has lost control of the eastern city.
AP reports that the Donetsk city was described as crucial during a daily intelligence briefing on Sunday, owing to its “key road crossing over the Siversky Donets River, behind which Russia has been attempting to consolidate its defences”.
Lyman has been retaken by Ukrainian forces despite Putin announcing Donetsk’s incorporation into Russian Federation on Friday, an annexation that AFP reports has today been recognised as lawful by Russia’s constitutional court.
The liberation of Lyman has “brought a new mood of optimism” into the nearby city of Sloviansk, a place that has been acutely impacted for months as a result of once being one of Russia’s main objectives alongside neighbouring Kramatorsk.
Reporting from the Donbas city is Peter Beaumont, who paints a picture of returning hustle and bustle following the recapture of Lyman about 12 miles away. Buses are operating again, while crowds are milling in the main market.
This follows Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s confirmation that Ukraine has “fully cleared” Russian forces from the key eastern city, a day after Moscow admitted its troops had pulled out after they were encircled.
While the city itself is tentatively coming back to life, residents say the transformation is most noticeable in the countryside on the road towards Lyman.
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Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed Ukraine has “fully cleared” Russian forces from the key eastern city of Lyman, a day after Moscow admitted its troops had pulled out after they were encircled.
In a short video clip on his Telegram channel, Zelenskiy thanked serving Ukrainian troops for liberating Lyman. “As of 1230 [Kyiv] local time Lyman is completely cleared,” he said, adding: “Glory to Ukraine”.
Earlier Zelenskiy said his army would continue its offensive in the south and east and would “return back” all of the territory occupied by Russia, including Crimea. He suggested Russian generals were now “biting each other” after a series of embarrassing setbacks.
Their loss of Lyman four months after Russian servicemen seized the city in the Donetsk oblast amounts to a humiliating moment for Vladimir Putin. On Friday, in a move rejected by the international community, he annexed Donetsk together with three other Ukrainian regions, and said they were a part of Russia “for ever”.
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The nine European countries who issued a statement earlier to condemn Russia’s annexation of Ukraine were all signalling their support for Ukraine to join Nato.
AP reports that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Slovakia were backing a path for Ukraine’s Nato membership in their slightly opaque joint statement.
The leaders of the nine countries said they “firmly stood behind the 2008 Bucharest Nato Summit decision concerning Ukraine’s future membership.”
Members at that 2008 summit welcomed Ukraine and Georgia’s aspirations to join, but declined to provide a clear timeline for the two countries’ possible ascension. The latest letter still mentions no timeline.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on Friday that he was applying to join Nato and signed an expedited application to join the security alliance of 30 states.
When asked on Friday about the application, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the application process in Brussels “should be taken up at a different time.”
Ukraine’s capture of Lyman demonstrates that the country is making progress and able to push back against Russian forces, Nato Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, has told NBC.
“We have seen that they have been able to take a new town, Lyman, and that demonstrates that the Ukrainians are making progress, are able to push back the Russian forces because of the courage, because of their bravery, their skills, but of course also because of the advanced weapons that the United States and other allies are providing,” Reuters reports that Stoltenberg said.
Asked about Ukraine’s application for accelerated membership in the Western defence alliance, Stoltenberg said: “any decision on membership has to be taken by consensus all 30 allies have to agree to make such a decision.”
Stoltenberg also said that Nato supports the investigation into the apparent sabotage of Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines that run from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea.
“Any deliberate attack on critical Nato infrastructure will be met with a firm and united response from an angle,” Stoltenberg said.
A leading charity which has been helping the government with rematching Ukrainian refugees with UK hosts after initial placements end or break down, is to scale back its work because they say the scheme is unworkable.
Hosting arrangements are for a minimum of six months and many are now coming to an end after the scheme opened in March of this year. As fewer UK hosts are now coming forward, rematching requests from Ukrainians are increasing.
Many Ukrainian households have become homeless – around one third of them in London. According to government figures from 24 February 2022 until 26 August 2022 1,565 Ukrainian households were registered as homeless by councils.
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The Associated Press has found evidence of 10 torture sites in the city of Izium, following Russia’s retreat. Here’s some of their reporting on the ground:
A deep sunless pit with dates carved into the brick wall. A clammy underground jail that reeked of urine and rotting food. A clinic, a police station and a kindergarten.
These were among the 10 Russian torture sites located by Associated Press journalists throughout the Ukrainian city of Izium. Torture in Izium was arbitrary, widespread and absolutely routine for both civilians and soldiers during the six months the Russians controlled the city, an AP investigation has found.
The AP spoke to 15 survivors of Russian torture in the Kharkiv region, as well as two families whose loved ones disappeared into Russian hands. Two of the men were taken repeatedly and abused. One battered, unconscious Ukrainian soldier was displayed to his wife to force her to provide information she simply didn’t have.
The AP also confirmed eight men killed under torture in Russian custody, according to survivors and families. All but one were civilians.
At a mass grave site created by the Russians and discovered in the woods of Izium, at least 30 of the 447 bodies recently excavated bore visible marks of torture bound hands, close gunshot wounds, knife wounds and broken limbs, according to the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office. Those injuries corresponded to the descriptions of the pain inflicted upon the survivors.
Russia has attacked Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s home town with suicide drones, AP reports.
Kryvyi Rih, the southern Ukrainian town where the president grew up, was hit by a Russian suicide drone early on Sunday, according to Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of Dnipropetrovsk. The governor said the strike destroyed two stories of a school.
Russia is increasingly using Iranian-made suicide drones to attack targets. The Ukrainian air force said it shot down five Iranian-made drones in southern Ukraine overnight, while two others made it through air defences.
Russia’s constitutional court has today recognised the annexation of four key Ukrainian territories as lawful, AFP reports.
The court has effectively rubber stamped the annexation accords signed by Vladimir Putin with the Moscow-backed leaders of the regions, despite widespread condemnation by the West.
Putin staged a grand Kremlin ceremony on Friday to celebrate the annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, following “referendums” denounced as a sham by Kyiv and its allies.
The annexation treaties will now be considered by Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Monday, according to Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.
The four territories create a crucial land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, also annexed by Moscow, in 2014. Together the five regions make up around 20 percent of Ukraine.
Germany, Denmark and Norway have commissioned a batch of long-range weapons to be built for Ukraine, Reuters reports.
The supply of 16 Slovak Zuzana-2 howitzers, just announced by the German defence ministry, will begin next year. It follows calls from Ukraine for heavier armaments to build on recent successes on the battlefield.
The guns, which can fire six projectiles a minute over a distance of 40 km, will be built in Slovakia. The three countries will spend 92 million euros on the systems.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office says Ukraine already has the support of 10 bloc countries to join Nato.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the head of the president’s office, tweeted that those supporting the application were “mostly countries that remember [the] poisonous claws of [the Russian] empire.”
He added: “We are grateful for the leadership and responsibility. History is being made today.”
The President announced on Friday that he was applying to join Nato and signed an expedited application to join the security alliance of 30 states.
It looks like the gas leaks on the damaged Nord Stream 1 pipeline have now been stopped. This follows Saturday’s announcement that gas was no longer flowing out of Nord Stream 2.
Denmark’s energy agency said on Sunday it had been informed by Nord Stream AG that stable pressure had been achieved in the damaged Nord Stream 1 pipeline and that this indicates the outflow of natural gas from the last leaks had now halted.
A total of four leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea near Denmark and Sweden last week.
While neither pipeline was in use at the time of the suspected blasts, they were filled with gas that has been spewing out and bubbling to the surface of the Baltic Sea since Monday.
Denmark has signed a letter of intent with Slovakia, Norway and Germany, to aid Slovakian production of Zuzana-2 artillery systems gifted to Ukraine, the Danish government has announced.
The country is donating 230m krone (30.1m euros) to the effort, which is worth 9.2m euros.
The presidents of nine Nato countries in central and eastern Europe declared on Sunday they would never recognise the annexation by Russia of Ukrainian territory, AFP reports.
Their reaction comes two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to annex four Moscow-occupied regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia – following “referendums” the West has dismissed as “sham”.
The presidents issued a joint statement saying they could not “stay silent in the face of the blatant violation of international law by the Russian Federation”.
“We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” they said.
“We do not recognise and will never recognise Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory.”
The statement was issued by the presidents of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Four of the signatories – Poland, and the three Baltic states – are on Nato’s eastern flank with Russia.
Two others – Romania and Slovakia – have borders with Ukraine.
Hungary, which also borders Ukraine, was notably absent from the list. Its nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, has sought close ties with Putin in recent years and railed against European Union sanctions on the Kremlin.
Also absent were Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.
The statement, published on the website of the Polish president’s office, said the leaders of the signatory countries had “visited Kyiv during the war and witnessed with their own eyes the effects of Russian aggression”.
“We support Ukraine in its defence against Russia’s invasion, demand Russia to immediately withdraw from all the occupied territories and encourage all (Nato) Allies to substantially increase their military aid to Ukraine,” it said.
“All those who commit crimes of aggression must be held accountable and brought to justice.”
The presidents said they stood by a decision Nato made 14 years ago, supporting Ukraine’s wish to join the transatlantic military alliance at a future date.
They did not comment on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, or on Ukraine’s request last Friday for fast-track Nato membership following Russia’s annexation manoeuvre.
Nato members have hesitated at accepting a country at war – which, by treaty, would oblige the alliance to come to its defence.
Nato’s Article 5 says an attack on one member is tantamount to attack on all.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday that it was technically possible to restore ruptured offshore infrastructure of Nord Streams pipelines, TASS news agency reported.
There have never been such incidents. Of course, there are technical possibilities to restore the infrastructure, it takes time and appropriate funds. I am sure that appropriate possibilities will be found.
Russia’s Defence Ministry has said its forces had destroyed seven artillery and missile depots in the Ukrainian regions of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk.
It said the guidance radar for a S-300 air defence missile system had also been destroyed near Nova Kaluha in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, Reuters is reporting.
More detail here on the Pope’s speech today, from AFP.
Pope Francis on Sunday deplored Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory and called on the Russian leader to stop the war and on Ukraine’s president to be open to talks.
“I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide,” he said during the Sunday Angelus prayer.
He implored Russian President Vladimir Putin “to stop this spiral of violence and death” and on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “to be open to serious proposals for peace”.
He also urged the international community “to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations”, and to support any efforts to resolve the conflict through dialogue.
It is the first time that the Argentine pope has directly addressed the Russian leader in a speech since the start of Moscow’s invasion on February 24.
Francis has been trying since the start of the invasion to open a path of dialogue with Moscow, while condemning a “cruel and senseless war”.