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Northern Donbas could be liberated in days as Ukraine forces advance on Russian-occupied city of Kreminna

Move comes after full control gained of vital supply hub in Lyman

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A member of the Ukrainian troop brings down a Donetsk Republic flag hoisted on a monument in Lyman. Photo: Reuters

A member of the Ukrainian troop brings down a Donetsk Republic flag hoisted on a monument in Lyman. Photo: Reuters

Neighbours embrace each other after they return from evacuation to the liberated village of Kamianka, near Lyman, in the Kharkiv region. Photo: Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

Neighbours embrace each other after they return from evacuation to the liberated village of Kamianka, near Lyman, in the Kharkiv region. Photo: Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

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A member of the Ukrainian troop brings down a Donetsk Republic flag hoisted on a monument in Lyman. Photo: Reuters

Ukrainian forces were advancing on the Russian-occupied city of Kreminna yesterday, as President Volodymr Zelensky declared full control over the recently liberated city of Lyman in the eastern Donetsk region.

Having liberated Lyman just hours after it was annexed by Vladimir Putin in a referendum widely condemned as a sham, Ukraine’s army was said to be continuing its advance towards Svatove and Kreminna and the P66 road that links the two cities.

Svatove and Kreminna each had a pre-invasion population of 16,000 and their liberation is seen as a stepping stone to expelling the Russians from the entire Donbas region. The swift advance of Ukraine’s forces raises the prospect that the northern part of the Donbas could be liberated within days.

Mr Zelensky declared full control over Lyman, an important logistics hub in eastern Ukraine that Russia was relying on to defend other parts of its occupied territory. “As of 12.30 (09.30 GMT), Lyman is fully cleared,” Mr Zelensky said on his Telegram channel. Mykhailo Podolyak, his adviser, announced the Russian death toll since the start of the invasion.

He said: “Everything is according to plan ... 60,000 Russian looters have already died on Ukrainian ground. Three times as much injured. Time to ask the ‘army’ of conscripted office workers: where did the ‘second army of professionals’ go?”

Kyiv’s forces are also making progress to liberate Kherson, in southern Ukraine, with photographs from the front line showing their blue and yellow flag flying in Novovorontsovka, a nearby settlement.

A video clip shared on Twitter also showed Ukrainian soldiers waving the flag in the newly liberated village of Zolota Balka and in the Kherson Oblast.

Also in the south, Mr Zelensky’s hometown of Krivyi Rih came under attack by a drone that destroyed a school yesterday, the regional governor said. The Ukrainian air force said it shot down five Iranian-made drones overnight, while two others made it through air defences.

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Neighbours embrace each other after they return from evacuation to the liberated village of Kamianka, near Lyman, in the Kharkiv region. Photo: Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

Neighbours embrace each other after they return from evacuation to the liberated village of Kamianka, near Lyman, in the Kharkiv region. Photo: Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

Neighbours embrace each other after they return from evacuation to the liberated village of Kamianka, near Lyman, in the Kharkiv region. Photo: Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

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A car carrying men to forage for mushrooms in a Chernihiv forest hit a mine, killing all four inside, Ukrainian authorities said yesterday. Russian attacks also targeted the city of Zaporizhzhia. And Ukraine’s military said it carried out strikes on multiple Russian command posts, ammunition depots and two S-300 anti-aircraft batteries.

Russia’s military did not comment on Lyman, after announcing on Saturday that it was withdrawing its forces there to what it said were more favourable positions.

The British military described the recapture of Lyman as a “significant political setback” for Moscow, and Ukraine appeared to swiftly capitalise on its gains.

Meanwhile, Christine Lambrecht, Germany’s defence minister, has pledged 16 Slovakian-made howitzer systems to Kyiv by early next year. They will be funded by Denmark, Norway and Germany, she told German media on return from her first trip to Ukraine since it was invaded last February.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis reiterated his demand for Putin to end the “bloodshed”.

“My appeal goes above all to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people,” he said.

The pope made “an equally hopeful appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to a serious peace proposal”.

Elsewhere, Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said it was “technically” possible to repair the Nord Stream pipeline, referring to an attack widely suspected to have been covertly launched by Russia.

“Of course, there are technical possibilities to restore the infrastructure. I am sure that appropriate possibilities will be found,” he said.

Putin’s land grab has threatened to push the conflict to a dangerous new level. It also prompted Ukraine to formally apply for Nato membership, a bid that won backing from nine central and eastern European Nato members fearful that Russia’s aggression could eventually target them too.

Ukrainian forces have retaken swathes of territory, notably in the northeast around Kharkiv, in a counteroffensive in recent weeks that has embarrassed the Kremlin and prompted rare domestic criticism of Mr Putin’s war.

Lyman, which Ukraine recaptured by encircling Russian troops, is in the Donetsk region near the border with Luhansk. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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