After withdrawing from Lyman: Anger is brewing in Moscow

After withdrawal from Lyman
Anger is brewing in Moscow

It’s another heavy defeat for the Kremlin: the strategically important city of Lyman is back under Ukrainian control – and the Russian army has to retreat further. Dissatisfaction with the military leadership in Moscow is growing. First culprits are named.

The frenzy of the annexation is followed by disillusionment in Russia: after the bitter defeat in the battle for the strategically important city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, Moscow is looking for someone to blame. Several high-ranking Russian politicians are calling for a heads-roll in the military leadership – and even for the use of nuclear weapons.

The influential blogger and former PR chief of Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, Anastasiya Kashevarova, demanded answers from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov: “Does the President know about the incidents? Who is reporting to him? Where is the equipment? Where are the ( Panzer) Armata? Where is everything? How did this happen? Bagged? Sold? Where did it go? Did it even exist?”

The Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov, in turn, demanded that Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, who was responsible for the front section, be deposed, demoted and sent to the front as a simple soldier. The problems in Lyman were reported two weeks ago. “A week later, Lapin transfers his staff to Starobilsk, more than 100 kilometers from his subordinates, and slips away to Luhansk himself. How can you command your units operationally when you are 150 kilometers away,” Kadyrov said indignantly. He called for the use of short-range nuclear weapons to be considered.

The goal is the liberation of all of Luhansk

Critical tones can also suddenly be heard on state television. For example, Maxim Yusin, a foreign policy expert, said it was easy to talk about what was happening after the “liberalization of the Zaporizhia region.” But it’s hard to argue with “dreamers who live in their own world,” Yusin said. “I see what’s happening on the front line near Lyman, things aren’t going very well.” Nobody can know whether the mobilization will really bring anything or not.

Moscow gave up the strategically important city of Lyman in the eastern region of Donetsk on Saturday. The armed forces had been withdrawn because of the risk of encirclement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow. Ukrainian authorities had previously spoken of more than 5,000 Russian soldiers being surrounded. There is no information about the number of dead and prisoners.

Devastating signal for the Kremlin

With the fall of Lyman, the path to Kreminna and Svatowe opened up for the Ukrainian troops. Both cities are located in the Luhansk region and – especially Swatowe – are considered important transport hubs. Ukrainian head of administration for Luhansk, Serhiy Hajdaj, said that as soon as the Russian soldiers left Lyman, the liberation of the entire Luhansk region would begin. “We’ve been waiting for it, we’re prepared,” said Hajdaj.

This would be a devastating signal for the Kremlin. At the beginning of the summer, the Russian army declared the Luhansk region “liberated”. More than seven months after the start of the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Cherson and Zaporizhia in addition to Donetsk on Friday. Internationally, this illegal step is not recognized.

Despite recent Russian annexations, Ukraine continues to try to liberate the occupied part of its country. After recapturing Lyman, they are likely to focus on a further advance in the northern Donbass and attempt to advance in the Luhansk region in the direction of the important transport hubs of Svatove and Kreminna.

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