Ukraine Troops Encircling Russian Forces as Putin Faces Major Defeat
Ukrainian troops are encircling Russian forces in Lyman, an occupied town in the northeast of the country, as Kyiv presses on with its counteroffensive to recapture seized territory.
Maps detailing Ukrainian advance in the region amid a continued counteroffensive show its forces moving north across the Siverskyi Donets river from areas east and west of town, and east across the Oskil river from positions north of Lyman.
The British Defense Ministry assessed on Wednesday that over the last few days, Ukraine has pressed its offensive operations in the northeast of the country. Its units advanced on at least two axes east from the line of the Oskil and Siverskyy Donets rivers, where forces had consolidated following their previous advance earlier in the month.
Mike Martin, a fellow at the Department of War Studies at King's College in London, said on Twitter that Ukrainian forces may eventually trap Russian forces in Lyman.
"Drive flanks north and east of Lyman, causing the Russians to reinforce this critical railroad junction," he tweeted. "Then drive a much bigger encircling movement to trap the whole lot."
It comes after a successful lightning counteroffensive by Ukraine earlier this month, which saw Kyiv recapture large swathes of its territory from Russia.
Ukrainian forces say they took back more than 3,000 square miles from Russian forces in less than two weeks, recapturing towns and cities and cutting off Russian supply lines.
Putin responded on September 21 by announcing a partial military mobilization of up to 300,000 citizens, while Russian-installed officials held sham referendums on joining Russia in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.
According to Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti, the reported results included 99.23 percent in favor in Donetsk and 98.42 percent in favor in Luhansk—two regions partially under pro-Moscow separatist control since 2014—as well as 93.11 percent in favor in Zaporizhzhia and 87.05 percent in favor in Kherson.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry referred to the referendums as a "propaganda show" in a statement shared with Newsweek.
"Forcing people in these territories to fill out some papers at the barrel of a gun is yet another Russian crime in the course of its aggression against Ukraine," Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said.
Ukraine is pressing on with its counteroffensive, and according to military officials, Ukrainian troops have only 6 percent of Kharkiv left to liberate.
Liberating Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, near its eastern border with Russia, has been "quite difficult" because Russia "does not retreat," Oleg Synegubov, the head of Ukraine's Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, was cited by Ukrainska Pravda as saying.
Newsweek reached out to Russia's foreign ministry for comment.