Ukraine says its forces reach Lyman, encircle Russian troops

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The capture of Lyman would be a major blow to Russia after President Vladimir Putin announced the occupation of the Donetsk region along with three other territories at a ceremony.

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Two smiling Ukrainian soldiers taped the yellow and blue national flag on the "Lyman" welcome board at the entrance to the city north of the Donetsk region.

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"October 1: We are hoisting our state flag and installing it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine," said one of the soldiers, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.

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A spokesman for Ukraine's eastern forces said Russia had 5,000 to 5,500 troops in Lyman, but the number of besieged troops could be reduced due to casualties.

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"The Russian group is besieged in the territory of Lyman," spokesman Serhi Cherewati said on television.

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Russia's last operational update was on Friday evening. On Saturday, the ministry's Telegram channel published a series of congratulatory messages, including one from Putin, to mark the army holiday.

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Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transportation hub for its operations north of the Donetsk region. Its collapse will be Ukraine's biggest battlefield advantage since lightning strikes.

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The Ukrainian military spokesman said the capture of Lyman would allow Kiev to advance into the Luhansk region, whose full occupation moscow initially declared.

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"Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbass. This is an opportunity to go ahead of Creminna and Sivirodonetsk, and it is psychologically very important.

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