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Russian losses evident in liberated Ukrainian city

Ukrainian servicemen in the recently recaptured town of Lyman (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)
Ukrainian servicemen in the recently recaptured town of Lyman (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

The bodies of Russian soldiers were lying in the streets of a key eastern Ukrainian city on Tuesday, evidence of a hasty retreat that marked a new military defeat for Moscow as it struggles to hang on to areas it illegally annexed last week.

Russia’s upper house of parliament rubber-stamped the annexation of four Ukrainian regions on Tuesday, following “referendums” that Ukraine and its western allies dismissed as illegal and fraudulent.

Responding to the annexation move, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has formally ruled out talks with Russia.

Russia Ukraine
The upper house of the Russian parliament has ratified treaties to absorb four Ukrainian regions (Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation/AP)

Mr Zelensky’s decree released on Tuesday declares that holding negotiations with Russian president Vladimir Putin has become impossible after his decision to take over the four regions of Ukraine.

The Kremlin responded to the Ukrainian president’s decree by saying that it will wait for Ukraine to agree to sit down for talks on ending the conflict, noting that it may not happen until a new Ukrainian president takes office.

“We will wait for the incumbent president to change his position or wait for a future Ukrainian president who would revise his stand in the interests of the Ukrainian people,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Despite the Kremlin’s apparent political bravado, the picture on the ground underscored the disarray Mr Putin faces in his response to Ukrainian advances and attempts to establish new Russian borders.

Ukrainian servicemen search for the bodies of dead comrades in Lyman
Ukrainian servicemen search for the bodies of dead comrades in the city of Lyman, which Russian troops pulled back from over the weekend (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Over the weekend, Russian troops pulled back from Lyman, a strategic eastern city that the Russians had used as a key logistics and transport hub, to avoid being encircled by Ukrainian forces.

The city’s liberation gave Ukraine a key vantage point for pressing its offensive deeper into Russian-held territories.

Two days later, an Associated Press team reporting from the town saw at least 18 bodies of Russian soldiers still on the ground. The Ukrainian military appeared to have collected the bodies of their comrades after fierce battles for control of Lyman, but did not immediately remove those of the Russians.

“We fight for our land, for our children, so that our people can live better, but all this comes at a very high price,” one Ukrainian soldier said.

Speaking late on Tuesday in his nightly video address, Mr Zelensky said dozens of settlements had been retaken “from the Russian pseudo-referendum this week alone” in the four annexed regions.

In the Kherson region, he listed eight villages that Ukrainian forces reclaimed, “and this is far from a complete list. Our soldiers do not stop.”

Lyman residents emerged from basements where they had hidden during the battle for control of the city and built bonfires for cooking. The city has had no water, electricity or gas since May. Residential buildings were burned. A few local people emerged on bicycles.

A man pumps water outside a destroyed house in Lyman
A man pumps water outside a destroyed house in Lyman (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

The Russian forces launched more missile strikes at Ukrainian cities on Tuesday as Ukrainian forces pressed their counteroffensives in the east and the south.

Several missiles hit Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, damaging its infrastructure and causing power cuts.

Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person had been killed and at least two others, including a nine-year-old girl, were wounded.

In the south, four civilians were wounded when Russian missiles struck the city of Nikopol.

After reclaiming control of Lyman in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian forces pushed further east and may have gone as far as the border of the neighbouring Luhansk region as they advance toward Kreminna, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in its latest analysis of the combat situation.

Despite the latest military gains, Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Yevhen Perebyinis called for the deployment of more weapons to Ukraine following the partial mobilisation announcement by Russia last month.

In a video address to a conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Russia’s war against Ukraine on Tuesday, Mr Perebyinis said the additional weapons would not lead to an escalation but instead would help to end the war sooner.

“We need additional long-range artillery and ammunition, combat aircraft and armed vehicles to continue the liberation of the occupied territories,” the deputy minister said.

“We need anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems to secure our civilians and critical infrastructure from the terrorist attacks on the Russian forces.”

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the military had recruited more than 200,000 reservists as part of a partial mobilisation launched two weeks ago.

He said that the recruits were undergoing training at 80 firing ranges before being deployed to the front lines in Ukraine.

In Washington, the US government announced on Tuesday that it would give Ukraine an additional 625 million dollars (£545m) in military aid, including more of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, that are credited with helping Kyiv’s recent military momentum. The package also includes artillery systems ammunition and armored vehicles.