The Ukrainian military says its forces have continued their advance in the Donetsk region a day after taking full control of the eastern strategic town of Lyman, as Russia continues to suffer heavy casualties.
Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Eastern Group of Ukrainian Armed Forces, said Ukrainian troops liberated the settlement of Torske near Lyman on October 2 and were striking Russian military units in Kreminna, Luhansk region, “with the fire”.
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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on October 3 that Russia had lost 320 soldiers the previous day, most of them in the directions of Kramatorsk and Bakhmut. Ukraine says that in total Russia has lost around 60,400 troops since its invasion began in February.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last month that Russian casualties stood at 5,937.
Neither figure could be independently verified.
On October 3, reports also surfaced that Ukrainian forces were retaking towns along the western bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.
The extent of the Ukrainian advance has not been confirmed, with Kyiv maintaining almost complete silence on the situation in the region. However, Russian military bloggers described a Ukrainian tank advance through tens of kilometers of territory along the riverbank.
In a rare comment from a Ukrainian official on the situation, Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, released what he described as a video of a Ukrainian soldier waving a flag in Zolota Balka, downriver from the old front line.
The latest reports came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on October 2 that Ukrainian troops had full control of Lyman in the Donbass region.
Zelenskiy made the brief comment in a music video posted to his Telegram channel on October 2.
“As of 12:30 p.m., Lyman is fully cleared,” he said. “Thank you to our soldiers. Glory to Ukraine.”
Lyman’s recapture was the biggest battlefield gain for Ukrainian forces in weeks and followed a counteroffensive in the northern Kharkiv region that swept aside Russian forces and stunned many observers.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Washington was “very encouraged” by Ukraine’s gains.
Lyman sits at a crossroads and marshalling post for the railroads, and analysts say Ukrainian troops would likely use the town as a staging post for further advances east.
The city had been the scene of intense fighting for days, with Ukrainian troops gradually encircling it and the approximately 5,000 Russian troops defending it.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on October 1 that it was withdrawing troops from the area “due to the creation of an encirclement threat”.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Russian forces suffered heavy casualties and an unknown number of soldiers were taken prisoner.
This is the latest setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, which came the day after the proclamation of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Russian forces for months.
The Donetsk region, where Lyman is located, is one of the four regions claimed by Putin.
Kyiv and the West condemned the declaration of annexation as illegal and a farce.
Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin ally and head of Russia’s Chechnya region, said Moscow should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine after Lyman’s loss.
In a statement criticizing Russian generals for the loss of Lyman, Kadyrov said it was time for the Kremlin to use all the weapons at its disposal.
“I don’t know what the Ministry of Defense reports to the Supreme Commander, but in my opinion, we need to take more drastic measures, including declaring martial law in border territories and using low-power nuclear weapons. yield,” Kadyrov said. said on his Telegram channel.
Putin’s declaration that Russia was annexing Donetsk, along with Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, was a major escalation by the Kremlin. Observers said it signaled further digging in by Russia’s leadership, dampening prospects for a peace deal.
Along with Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, the four regions make up around 20% of Ukraine, including some of its most industrialized territories.
Russia’s setbacks on the battlefield also come amid reports of chaos during a mobilization ordered less than two weeks ago by Putin that saw tens of thousands of Russian men suddenly called into the battlefield. army and tens of thousands of others fleeing abroad.
Mikhail Degtyarev, governor of the Khabarovsk region in Russia’s Far East, said about half of the thousands of men called up there had been deemed unfit for work and sent home. He said he fired the region’s military commissioner.
“The military commissar of the Khabarovsk region, Yuri Laiko, has been suspended,” Degtyaryev said in a video posted on Telegram.
It will have no impact on the fulfillment of the tasks that the president has given us,” Degtyaryev said in a Telegram video.