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Ukraine conflict: Ukrainian advances continue after Russian rout from Lyman

Ukrainian troops advancing near Lyman two days after President Volodymyr Zelensky declared on 2 October that the town had been “cleared” of Russian troops. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces continued to make progress following their recapture of Lyman in Donetsk on the weekend of 1−2 October, with Western sources saying on 5 October that they were “well within” the observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA) loop quicker than Russia can react. They recaptured Lyman from Russia's 20th Guards Combined Arms Army, “probably” a Northern Fleet arctic warfare unit, and reservists, who retreated in disorder with losses in “the low thousands”, according to the sources.

The assessment of a senior military official was “that many of these Russian forces have moved back towards Crimea, which is east of Lyman, and are likely prioritising that location to hold the line and robust further Ukrainian advances. Notably, Lyman was being employed by Russian forces as a logistics hub, so its liberation by Ukraine is a significant operational accomplishment”.

Western sources said Russian forces withdrew from Lyman in defiance of the political leadership in Moscow following its annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson on 30 September. They added that the situation in the south was “rapidly evolving”, with Ukraine threatening Kherson, which Russia would not want to withdraw from for political reasons, with 20,000 defending troops with their backs to the Dnipro river. The sources considered it plausible that the Russians are positioning units to prevent others from retreating.

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