The annexation frenzy is followed by disillusionment in Russia: after the bitter defeat in the battle for the strategically important eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman, anger is boiling over in Moscow. Several high-ranking Russian politicians are calling for a direct confrontation on the military leadership and even the use of nuclear weapons.
Ukraine and the West seem impressed: in Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy scoffed that Ukrainian flags were hanging where Russians had previously held mock referendums. Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov received his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht in the Black Sea city of Odessa. During its first visit to Ukraine since the start of the war, SPD policy promised to quickly deliver the modern Iris-T air defense system.
Russia withdrew its forces from Lyman in the Donetsk region because of the risk of siege, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow on Saturday. Ukrainian authorities had already spoken of about 5,000 Russian soldiers besieged. There is no information on the number of dead and arrested.
With the fall of Lyman, the way to Kreminna and Svatowe was opened for Ukrainian troops. Both cities are located in the Luhansk region and are – especially Swatowe – important transport hubs. This would be a devastating sign for the Kremlin. In early 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, Kherson and Zaporizhia, as well as Donetsk on Friday. Internationally, this illegal step is not recognized.
Serious allegations against Russian military leadership
On the Russian side, the renewed defeat caused bitter comments: influential blogger and former head of public affairs for Duma President Vyacheslav Volodin, Anastasiya Kaschevarova, demanded answers from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov: incidents? Who reports to him? Where’s the equipment? Where are the Armata (type tanks)? where is everything How could this happen? bagged? Sold? where was this even possible?”
Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov, in turn, demanded that Colonel General Alexander Lapin, responsible for the front section, be deposed, demoted and sent to the front as a simple soldier. The problems at Lyman were reported two weeks ago. “A week later, Lapin moves his team to Starobilsk, more than 100 kilometers from his subordinates, and flees to Luhansk. How can you operationally command your units when you are 150 kilometers away,” said Kadyrov. He called for the use of short-range nuclear weapons to be considered.
Zelenskyy on the Russian defeat
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy reacted with derision to Russia’s defeat at Lyman and anger at Moscow. The Ukrainian flag is waving again where the Russians had already held their “pseudo-referendums”, the 44-year-old said in his daily video speech on Saturday. At the same time, he announced that the fight was still going on in Lyman.
“By the way, they’ve already started biting each other there: they’re looking for the culprits, accusing some generals of failure,” Zelenskyy commented on Moscow’s furious reactions to the Lyman retreat. It’s just the first warning shot for all those who participated in Putin’s war. Until they solve the problem with the one who “started this for Russia senseless war against Ukraine, you will be killed and scapegoated one by one”, he prophesied.
CDU politicians for more deterrence
In light of Russian threats of nuclear weapons, CDU foreign politician Roderich Kiesewetter believes that Western countries need to step up their deterrence. “Of course we have to take this seriously, and of course there is always that risk,” he told Berlin’s Tagesspiegel, referring to Putin’s threats to use “all available means” if necessary. “But we can avoid that by increasing our own deterrence and fighting Putin with strength and unity.”
Lambrecht promises fast anti-aircraft deliveries
Defense Minister Lambrecht traveled to Ukraine for the first time since the start of the war. In the Black Sea port city of Odessa, she was greeted by her Ukrainian colleague Resnikov on Saturday. Lambrecht promised to deliver a first unit of the promised Iris-T SLM ground air defense system within a few days.
In the port of Odessa, the minister learned of the use of a Gepard anti-aircraft tank provided by the federal government. Twice she had to seek shelter in the bunker because of an air raid.