Zelensky says Donetsk’s Lehmann fully liberated

Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced the full restoration of a strategic town in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, as a public spat intensified over Russia’s latest setback over the Kremlin’s goal of conquering swathes of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Western supporters in Kyiv have welcomed Ukrainian troops marching into an area that Moscow has announced will soon become part of Russia.

Since arriving in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine this spring, the Russian army has used the town of Lehman as an important logistical hub, and as of noon local time, the town of Lehman has been completely “cleared of Russian occupiers,” Zelensky said. say on twitter.

The president’s statement came a day after the Russian Defense Ministry admitted it was forced to withdraw troops from Lehman to “more favorable lines of defense.”

Ukrainian control of the town has been consolidated since launching a massive counteroffensive last month, in stark contrast to Russia’s push to formally incorporate Russia in Donetsk and three other eastern regions following a series of staged referendums Weeks, Kyiv and its Western supporters denounced it as illegal and illegal.

Former senior U.S. officials David Petraeus and HR McMaster said on Oct. 2 that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest threat to Ukraine won’t change the war. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

Zelensky sneered at Putin’s attempt to declare Russia’s authority through a decree over an area now reclaimed by Ukrainian forces.

“You know, that’s the trend,” he said later in a nightly video address. “Recently, there was a pseudo-referendum somewhere, and when the Ukrainian flag was returned, no one remembered the Russian farce, there were some scraps of paper and some annexation.”

The continued push into Russian-controlled areas has heightened the risk of repeated threats from President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials in recent days, suggesting that Moscow could even use nuclear weapons Defend territory it considers part of Russia, including annexed areas of Ukraine.

Putin alluded to the U.S. use of the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 in a fiery speech on Friday in which Russian leaders saw the annexation of large swathes of Ukraine as a fulfillment of the fate of the Russians.

Ukraine’s supporters in the West, like leaders in Kyiv, insist they will not succumb to Russian intimidation. On Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Russia against any escalating retaliation related to Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

“This is another illegal claim; it’s an irresponsible statement,” he said in an interview with CNN. “The threat of nuclear weapons is not the kind of thing we would expect to hear from capable great power leaders.”

Austin said that despite Putin’s recent order to mobilize 300,000 troops to intensify the fighting in Ukraine, he expects Ukrainian troops to continue offensive operations to retake all Russian-held territory. Ukrainian troops are also trying to penetrate deep into Russian-held southern Ukraine, advancing towards the city of Kherson.

“I don’t think this will stop and we will continue to support their efforts,” he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the recapture of Lehmann as an example of progress by Ukrainian forces “because of their bravery and skill and, of course, because of the advanced weapons provided by the United States and other allies.”

He noted that countries including Norway and Germany are stepping up their aid to Ukraine. “It makes an impact on the battlefield every day,” he told NBC.

Retired three-star general HR McMaster, who served as national security adviser during the Trump administration, said the recent spate of battlefield reversals could indicate that the Russian military is reaching a “tipping point.”

“We may be on the verge of the collapse of the Russian military in Ukraine. Moral collapse,” he told CBS.

But U.S. officials have warned that despite Russia falling short of Putin’s initial Feb. 2 goals. The 24th invasion, including the capture of Kyiv, and ongoing mobilization may still pose a formidable challenge to Ukraine. Even with more Western aid, Ukraine’s military is dwarfed by Russia’s in size and weaponry.

On Sunday, the leaders of nine Eastern and Central European countries condemned Putin’s annexation, saying they could not “keep silence in flagrant violation of international law”.

“We do not recognize and will never recognize Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory,” the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovakia said in a joint statement.

Waves of public condemnation and bickering have been blamed on the hardline pro-Kremlin Telegram channel in Moscow’s latest setback as Russian troops try to build a new line of defense after retreating from Lehman.

Two powerful figures with their own armed forces fighting Ukraine launched a scathing attack on the Russian Defense Ministry commander in an open conflict that highlighted the chaos of the Russian military. The first was Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s criticism of Russian military commanders on Saturday and his call for the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Then Russian oligarch and founder of the mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozin, added his own outspoken attack in a rare public speech.

“Of course, Kadyrov’s expressive statement was not entirely in my style,” he said, according to Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel. “But I think we should send all these bastards to the front line with machine guns barefoot,” he said, apparently referring to top Russian military commanders.

Elena Panina, a former lawmaker and director of the pro-Kremlin think tank Russtrat, called the public attack on top Russian military figures “unprecedented” before criticizing herself, complaining about the lack of any draconian military retaliation to punish Russia for being in Ukraine. forced to retreat.

She called Ukraine’s retake of Lehman a “direct act of aggression against Russia,” referring to Russia’s illegal annexation of the region. Panina said the criticism of the Russian military command came “in the context of military failure and to the delight of the enemy.”

But sweeping Russia’s failures away is a path “full of real disaster,” she said. In what appeared to be a call for the dismissal of senior military officials, she called for “a qualitative change in personnel, of an organizational and operational nature, up to and including emergency measures.”

“By numerous estimates, Russia faces a more numerous, better armed, better prepared and more motivated enemy,” Panina said, adding that winning would require “superhuman effort.”

In comments on its Telegram channel, Readovka, a Telegram news outlet that supports the Kremlin, described the public accusations as “worse than betrayal” and called for an end to public accusations of “hotheads” and “turbo patriots.”

Ukraine on Sunday continued to push for the release of an official overseeing its Zaporozhye nuclear power plant that authorities said had been detained by Russia. Fighting in the area around a Russian-controlled facility but operated by Ukrainian engineers has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said he had spoken to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, who told him the agency was working to ensure the Release of factory director Ihor Murashov.

“I stress that Russia must withdraw its troops and military equipment from the station,” Kuleba said in a tweet.

Morgunov reported from Kyiv. Dixon reported from Riga, Latvia.

Ukraine war: what you need to know

Newest: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday to annex four occupied parts of Ukraine after a referendum held widely denounced as illegal. Follow us here for live updates.

response: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia in response to the annexation, targeting government officials and families, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said on Friday that Ukraine was applying for “accelerated accession” to NATO, in an apparent response to annexation.

In Russia: Putin announced a military mobilization on September 9. 21st to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to dramatically reverse his setback in the Ukraine war. The announcement led to the exodus of more than 180,000 people, mostly men serving in the military, and reignited protests and other anti-war behavior.

Fight: Ukraine launched a successful counteroffensive, forcing Russia to conduct a massive retreat in the northeastern region of Kharkiv in early September, as troops fled the cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned vast quantities of military equipment.

photo: Photographers for The Washington Post have been on the ground since the war began — some of their most influential work.

How you can help: Here’s how Americans can support the people of Ukraine, and people around the world have been giving.

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