New Delhi: A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Donetsk among three other regions of Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday said that Russian troops and the Donbas militias have pulled out of the city of Krasny Liman in the Donetsk Oblast amid the emerging threat of encirclement from Ukrainian forces.
“Due to the emerging threat of encirclement, the allied troops have withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman and deployed to more advantageous positions,” RT quoted the statement from the ministry. Earlier, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, said that the city had been “half-encircled” by the Ukrainian troops and the situation in the city was “alarming”.
The Russian military said that the Ukrainian forces lost more than 200 soldiers, five tanks, and five infantry fighting vehicles during the attack on Krasny Liman. Despite the losses, the Ukrainian command sent in reserves and reached “considerable superiority in men and materiel” in the direction of the attack, RT reported.
“The Russian forces in Krasny Liman had been encircled,” a representative of the Ukrainian operational command ‘East’, Sergey Cherevaty said. He also said that the Ukrainian troops seized five settlements near Liman, including the town of Yampol, located southeast, RT reported quoting Ukraine media.
Russian troops and Donbas forces had occupied the city of Krasny Liman in late May this year. The city is located on the DPR’s northern edge not far from Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, which saw its eastern part captured by Ukrainian troops in early September.
On Friday, Putin formally announced the annexation of four regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia and claimed that “this is the will of millions of people,” media reports said.
Putin said the residents in the four annexed regions will now be Russia’s “citizens forever”.
While denying seeking revival of the Soviet Union by the said annexation, Putin accused Western states – which have imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Moreover, in a strong statement, Putin also added that Russia would now defend its new territory “with all the means at its disposal.”
Following Putin’s announcement, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his country is submitting an “accelerated” application to join the NATO military alliance.
“We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO,” reported Al Jazeera quoted Zelenskyy as saying.
Russia’s annexation sparked wide criticism from around the world. The western leaders condemned it, termed it “illegal” and vowed that they will “never recognize” these areas.
The United States announced that it will impose a “swift and severe cost” on Russia.
The Biden administration official said they are “targeting additional Russian government officials and leaders, their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials, and defence procurement networks, including international suppliers supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex” through announcements from the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and State, according to CNN.
That includes sanctions from the Treasury Department on a key player in keeping the Russian economy afloat: Elvira Nabiullina, an economist who has been leading Russia’s central bank since 2013.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on all states to reject Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
“We call on all States to reject Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest. These lands are Ukraine, Donetsk is Ukraine, Luhansk is Ukraine, Kherson is Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia is Ukraine, just like Crimea is Ukraine,” he said.