Just a day after Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Donbass, in yet another defeat at the hands of the Ukrainian army, Russia gave up the strategically important city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. The armed forces had been withdrawn because of the risk of encirclement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow on Saturday.

It is a significant victory for Ukraine – and a painful defeat for Putin’s troops: According to Ukrainian authorities, 5,000 Russian soldiers have been surrounded in the city in the north, more than at any time since the beginning of the war. It is unclear how many of the 5,000 Russian soldiers are still in the city. They are cut off from communications, ammunition and supplies. According to observers, many Russians may have tried to leave Lyman for the east during the night.

Videos are said to show Ukrainian troops advancing into the city from both the north and south, unfurling the Ukrainian flag over the place name. You can see the scenes here in the video:

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. This would be a devastating signal for the Kremlin. At the beginning of the summer, the Russian army declared the Luhansk region “liberated”.

“Lyman is important because it is the next step in liberating Ukraine’s Donbass,” a Ukrainian army spokesman said on Saturday. “It’s an opportunity to move on to Kreminna and Seyerodonetsk and it’s very important psychologically.”

The defeat is doubly bitter for the Russian troops: Just one day after Putin declared the areas of Donbass and Luhansk to be Russian in violation of international law at a ceremony on Friday, the army also lost an important supply corridor: important deliveries ran via Lyman via the Rail and road from Russian Belgorod to the front in the Donbass. With Lyman, Moscow loses one of the most important centers for its “special operation”.

For weeks Lyman had been fought bitterly. After the defeat in the northern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv and their withdrawal from there, Russian troops tried to build a new front line along the Oskil and Siverskyi Donets rivers. Lyman as the nearest city across from the Kyiv-held Sloviansk conurbation – Kramatorsk was considered important in this regard. On the one hand, to be able to launch attacks in the north of the Donbass region, on the other hand as a barrier for a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

So far it is unclear how Kremlin boss Putin will react to the sensitive defeat. Putin’s henchman and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov threatened Telegram this afternoon: “In my personal opinion, we should take more drastic measures, up to and including the imposition of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”