Russian forces in the town of Lyman in the Donetsk region were surrounded by the Ukrainian military on Friday, eclipsing Vladimir Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
The Kyiv government urged Russian troops to lay down their arms and surrender, as long-range Ukrainian weapons made it virtually impossible to reinforce or escape the city via the last remaining safe highway.
Heavy fighting was reported on the outskirts of Lyman, as separate Ukrainian forces advanced in a pincer movement intended to encircle their enemy.
A military setback in the city, which has served as a logistical hub for Russian operations in the Donbass, would be one of Moscow’s biggest failures since the start of the war.
As Ukrainian forces advanced on the town from three directions, the village of Yampil, directly to the southeast, was liberated and Russia abandoned its forward defensive position at Drobysheve to the north.
Military officials largely maintained operational silence, but hinted that an attempt to completely encircle Russian forces in the area was underway.
“All approaches and logistical routes of the enemy, through which they delivered ammunition and manpower, are in fact under the control of (Ukraine’s) fire,” said Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the forces of eastern Ukraine.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior official of the Ukrainian president, said: “Russia will have to demand an exit from Lyman’s cauldron. Only if, of course, those who feast in the Kremlin care about their soldiers.
Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian MP, tweeted: “Lyman is surrounded! The Ukrainian army is already in Yampil. The Russian army tries to escape.