Ukrainian troops walk through Lyman after the city in eastern Ukraine was liberated from Russian occupiers, October 1, 2022 (New York Times)
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Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1526 GMT:
Associated Press journalists have located 10 Russian torture sites in the city of Izyum, liberated in Ukraine’s northeast offensive earlier this month.
The sites during the six-month Russian occupation included a clinic, a police station, and a kindergarten.
The journalists spoke to 15 survivors and two families whose relatives have disappeared. They confirmed eight men, all but one of them a civilian, killed by the torture.
Two men spoke of repeated abuse. One beaten, unconscious Ukrainian soldier was displayed to his wife to force her to provide information that she did not have.
As the men were abused, a Russian commander sneered, “No one needs you. We can shoot you any time, bury you a half-meter underground, and that’s it.”
UPDATE 1511 GMT:
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, says 10 of 30 NATO countries have already supported Kyiv’s membership, less than 48 hours after Zelenskiy announced the formal application.
Podolyak indicated that the countries were part of or near the Soviet bloc.
Within 48 hours of @ZelenskyyUa signing application to join NATO, 10 bloc countries supported Ukraine's membership in the Alliance – mostly countries that remember poisonous claws of ru-empire. We are grateful for the leadership and responsibility. History is being made today.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) October 2, 2022
Nine countries who condemned Vladimir Putin’s “annexation” of occupied areas of Ukraine all signalled their support for Kyiv’s accession to NATO
The Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia said they “firmly stood behind the 2008 Bucharest Nato Summit decision concerning Ukraine’s future membership”.
That decision welcomed the aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia to join, but gave no timeline.
UPDATE 1106 GMT:
Russia has restricted SoundCloud, accusing it of distributing “false information” about the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor restricted access on the order of the Russian Prosecutor General’s office.
UPDATE 1100 GMT:
In a brief video on Telegram, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says, “As of 1230 (0930 GMT), Lyman is fully cleared.”
UPDATE 0801 GMT:
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, has called on Russia to release the abducted director of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Russian troops seized Ihor Murashov from his car on his way from the plant to the town of Enerhodar about 4 pm on Friday. He was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location.
The head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Petro Kotin, said Russia is trying to transfer the plant to the Russian energy firm Rosatam. He assessed that the Russians are trying to make Murashov, who oversees safety for 7,000 Ukrainian staff, “accept this move”.
On Saturday night, IAEA head Grossi “expressed the hope that Mr Murashov will return to his family safely and promptly and will be able to resume his important functions at the plant”.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a strategic victory opening the way to further advances in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have liberated the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region from Russian occupiers.
Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed that its forces left the rail hub, about 175 km (110 miles) southeast of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, on Saturday. It said the retreating troops had “withdrawn to more advantageous lines”.
Hours earlier, video showed Ukrainian forces raising the national flag at the city’s entrance.
Ukraine's armed forces raising the blue and yellow flag above the #Lyman entrance sign on the outskirts of the city. "Stabilisation measures" are being carried out, eastern command says, amid reports that around 5000 Russian soldiers remain trapped inside pic.twitter.com/xWnp4YbkX7
— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 1, 2022
The Russians occupied Lyman in May, using it as a vital transit and supply point for their offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
However, Ukraine’s counter-offensive this month — which swept across more than 8,000 square km (3,088 square miles) in the Kharkiv region — put pressure on Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. In the past week, Ukrainian forces had almost encircled Lyman, threatening to isolate more than 5,000 occupying Russian troops.
A senior Ukrainian military official said on Saturday afternoon that Lyman is “already liberated”: “A mop-up is ongoing. The Russians have nowhere to run.”
Russian military analysts reported that Ukrainian troops were in the center of Lyman, handing out food to residents. Shelling and small arms fire had stopped. One Russian military blogger lamented, “Whatever promises there were to send us reinforcements never materialized.”
Ukrainian drone footage showed Russian military columns, as well as civilian vehicles, retreating. Video showed other Russian armor destroyed and troops killed by an artillery strike on a forest road. Dozens and possibly hundreds of Russian soldiers appear to have been captured.
Defeat of Putin’s “Annexation”
The liberation came a day after a Kremlin ceremony in which Vladimir Putin had signed a decree for the annexation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south.
Putin had said that Lyman would be Russia’s “forever”.
On Saturday, Putin’s subordinate Ramzan Kadyrov, the governor of Russia’s Chechnya region, raved with desperation and threats, “Due to a lack of elementary military logistics, today we have abandoned several settlements and a large piece of territory.”
Kadyrov said Col.-Gen. Alexander Lapin, commander of the forces in Lyman, is a “mediocrity” and should be demoted to private and stripped of his medals.
The governor then offered his advice on reversing the Russian setbacks: “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.”
Zelenskiy: “Our Flag Will Be Everywhere”
In his nightly address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy juxtaposed the liberation of Lyman with Putin’s “annexation” after staged “referenda” in the occupied areas:
Russia has staged a farce in Donbas. An absolute farce, which it wanted to present as an alleged referendum. Now a Ukrainian flag is there….
The Ukrainian flag is already in Lyman. Fighting is still going on there, but there is no trace of any pseudo-referendum.
Our flag will be everywhere.
Zelenskiy then addressed Russians:
This is the first bell that should be heard at all levels of the Russian government. Until you all solve the problem with the one who started it all, who started this senseless for Russia war against Ukraine, you will be killed one by one.
You will be made scapegoats, so as not to admit that this war is a historical mistake for Russia.