All through Friday night, Russian sources on Telegram were repeating the same stories: Ukrainian forces were everywhere; The Russian troops were trying to escape, but the artillery was gone; the armor was gone; the officers were gone. The Ukrainian forces were coming at them in waves, and although the Russians bravely stood their ground and mowed down the Ukrainians with machine guns, the Ukrainians got up and continued to advance. Because the drugs. Or zombies. Or zombie drugs. In any case, the Ukrainians were unstoppable killing machines. Please send help.
At the same time, Russian fan The channels were telling a very different story. Russia had reinforced Lyman. Ukrainian soldiers were dying by the thousands. Russian forces had lured Ukraine into an “extermination camp.” Lyman would once be remembered as a disaster for Ukraine. Lyman was a clever trap. Lyman was Russia forever.
On Saturday morning in the Ukraine, this was Lyman.
This is actually the northwestern tip of Lyman, along the road that goes west to Drobysheve. Similar videos show Ukrainian forces entering Lyman in its southeast corner and raising the blue and the yellow on that edge of the city.
What is noticeable in both videos is the silence. There are no signs that the fighting is continuing. No booming artillery. Not even small arms fire. On Saturday, there are reports that Ukrainian forces reached the center of the small town. The Ukrainian military has now officially announced the release of Stavky, Drobysheve, Yampil and Kolodyazi, confirming the map as it appeared on Friday morning. There has been no official announcement yet (as of 8 am ET, 3 pm in Kyiv) about Lyman’s release. However, that seems to be a technicality at this point.
Ukraine has taken Lyman. The remaining Russian forces are completely surrounded and confined to an area in the north central part of the city.
There are also reports that Ukrainian forces have entered Zarichne and Torske, and Russian forces have withdrawn from that area. Fighting is reportedly continuing outside Kreminna, with Russian forces reportedly also leaving Kreminna in large numbers.
While some reports indicate that as many as 5,000 Russian soldiers and LPRs remained within the shrinking “pocket” in Lyman, that seems highly unlikely. Russian forces that remain likely number in the hundreds. In Ukraine on Saturday afternoon, reports of fighting continue in Lyman. Although it seems unfathomable why the Russian forces would be fighting at this point.
Now it seems possible to piece together some kind of picture of what happened in the last 48 hours from a combination of sources. As the perimeter around Lyman tightened, the Russian forces that had been at Yampil and Drobysheve first entered Lyman and then began to retreat down the road to the east. There was an effort to withdraw heavy equipment, including artillery that had supported the Russian position at Lyman for the past two weeks. Within hours, much of the Russian infantry began to follow them, but all this made progress slow over relatively small paths.
Throughout Thursday and Friday, those Russian forces issued many requests for reinforcement or rescue, and assurances were sent that it was on the way. There are even messages from the Bakhmut area complaining that Wagner’s forces left the front lines to go to Lyman. However, whether any of those forces ever reached Lyman is not mentioned. Most likely, whatever relief force was dispatched never got any closer than the intersection between Torske and Zarichne, where they may have helped temporarily keep Ukrainian forces off the road.
As the escaping forces engaged Ukrainian artillery, anti-tank weapons, and heavy machine gun fire, they suffered significant losses. Damaged armor obstructed the route. They were also reduced because the road leading to Lyman had been mined or damaged in several places.
At some point, Russian troops (some reports suggest members of BARS-13) blew up the bridge across the Zherebets River north of Torske to prevent Ukrainian pursuit. This may have helped some escape to the east, but it also trapped the forces following them, leading to heavy fighting near Zarichne as those forces tried to find a way out.
Here is how a russian font describes it
The media and government Telegram channels are beginning to casually admit that there was something wrong with Lyman, but they don’t make much of the situation. Actually, it’s a disaster.
It seems likely that most of the Russian forces at Lyman did not escape or remain in the city to be taken prisoner. They’re just dead in the field somewhere to the east.
However, some of those Russian forces clearly broke through, because they lived to repeat the history of “Ukrainian drug zombies” after retreating all the way back to Valuyki, just across the Russian border. (Russians claiming Ukrainians had been drugged into fearless unstoppable killing machines is a story that has been told for nearly the beginning of the invasion).
Russian sources insist that thousands of troops were not left behind at Lyman, but indicate there may well be hundreds. If so, we will know very soon. The Ukrainian forces will also get a good look at how effective the Russian forces were in getting all that heavy equipment out of the city. It’s unclear how intense any fight is in Lyman right now.
Meanwhile, Russian fan channels are already back in business, explaining how Lyman is a huge win for Russia. They will continue to make those claims when Ukraine liberates Crimea.
There are reports this morning that Russia has hijacked Ihor Murashov, the director of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant in Enerdorhar. Reuters Reports that Murashov was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. Unsurprisingly, the IAEA is concerned and was told that the director was being “detained” so that he could “answer some questions”.
Recently, Russia has indicated that it wants to close the plant, which is the largest in Europe and accounts for a fifth of all electricity produced in Ukraine. The workers have been told to prepare for a lockdown, after which they will be placed under the authority of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear directive. They will then have to compete for their jobs against imported Russian workers.
To the north, along the eastern bank of the Oskil River, Ukrainian forces reportedly liberated other Lyman—Lyman Pershyi. If these reports are accurate, this would close the gap between the bridgeheads at Dvorichna and Kupyansk.
Fighting continues in places east of the bridgehead. That includes reports of fighting in Pishchane, which is several kilometers away from previous reports of Ukrainian movement and well below the P07 highway that leads to Svatove.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian forces also continue to move south. There were reports on Friday that Ukraine has reached Kruhlyakivka, putting this southward advance just 15km north of Borova. With Lyman’s release, Borova remains the last major city in Kharkiv Oblast still occupied by Russian forces.
And supposedly there is a video, which I am not going to look for:
And Ukraine does not give truce:
More information from inside Lyman, and once again those involved in the “cleanup” indicate no sound of fighting. If there was any fighting at Lyman today, it has been limited. It seems likely that most of those who have remained in the city have by now given up.