Ukraine war: Ukrainian forces 'partially surround' strategic city and other key stories
Russian forces 'partially surrounded' in Lyman
A senior Russian-backed official has acknowledged that Moscow's forces are "half encircled" in a strategic city in eastern Ukraine.
"At the moment, Lyman is partially surrounded," said Denis Pushilin, the Russian-installed governor in the Donetsk region.
"The Svatove road is under our control, but under fire periodically," he wrote on Telegram, admitting that the nearby villages of Yampil and Drobycheve "are not under total control".
The Ukrainian army was "trying at all costs to spoil our historic events", Pushilin added, referring to the annexation ceremony in Moscow.
A Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Friday that Russia would have to appeal to Kyiv to allow Moscow's encircled troops out.
"Only if, of course, those in Kremlin are concerned with their soldiers," Mykhailo Podolyak added on Twitter.
Lyman is located around 160 kilometres southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. For months, it has served as a logistics and transport hub anchoring Russian operations in the Donetsk region.
The Institute for the Study of War says that losing the city would be a major blow to Moscow's war effort amid annexation plans.
“The collapse of the Lyman pocket will likely be highly consequential to the Russian grouping [and] may allow Ukrainian troops to threaten Russian positions along the western Luhansk,” the Washington-based institute said.