Volodymyr Zelensky says a Ukrainian town has been “completely cleared” of Russian troops.

Kyiv: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed on Sunday that Lyman, a crucial town in one of four Ukrainian areas taken by Russia, has been “cleansed” of Moscow’s forces.

The new event, which is part of Ukraine’s weeks-long counteroffensive against Moscow’s invasion, comes as Russia moves closer to completing the annexation of conquered Ukrainian areas, despite criticism from Kiev and the West.

The recovery of Lyman, which Moscow’s soldiers pummelling for weeks to seize this spring, is the first Ukrainian military triumph in territory claimed by the Kremlin and sworn to defend with all means.

“Lyman has been cleared as of 12:30 p.m. (0930 GMT). Thank you to our armed forces!” In a social media video, President Zelensky remarked.

Ukraine’s army announced on Saturday that it had entered Lyman, forcing Moscow to proclaim a “withdrawal” of its forces from the town to “more favorable lines.”

“Now I am upbeat and driven.”I witness the activities on the front lines and how foreign weapons… help us reclaim our territory,” says a 33-year-old Ukrainian soldier known as “Smoke,” he told AFP after arriving from near Lyman.

Volodymyr Zelensky promised to reclaim more territories in the country’s eastern Donbas region within a week in a video address late Saturday.The Russian court has approved annexation.

Experts have cautioned that as Russian losses rise, President Vladimir Putin may resort to nuclear weapons to preserve territory, an idea advocated by a Putin loyalist.

After Moscow’s soldiers were driven out of Lyman, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov declared Saturday that Russia should consider deploying “low-yield nuclear bombs.”

Putin held a spectacular Kremlin event on Friday to commemorate the takeover of four Ukrainian territories: Donetsk, Kherson, Laganas, and Zaporizhzhya, following referendums that Kyiv and its backers deemed invalid.

Despite the Western outcry, Russia’s Constitutional Court upheld the annexation agreements made by Putin with the Moscow-backed leaders of four Ukrainian areas on Sunday.

According to Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, the annexation treaties will be reviewed by Russia’s lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, on Monday.

The four regions provide an important geographical corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow also seized in 2014.

Together, the five regions account for around 20% of Ukraine.

Kyiv has also demanded the immediate release of the chief of the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility, accusing the Russians of “illegal arrest.”

According to Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom, Ihor Murashov was leaving the plant on Friday when he was arrested and “driven to an unknown destination” while blindfolded.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a statement in which its chairman, Rafael Grossi, expressed “grave concern” about Murashov’s incarceration.
Mr. Grossi is slated to visit Kyiv and Moscow “next week,” according to the UN agency.
Zaporizhzhia has been at the center of hostilities, with Moscow and Kyiv blaming one other for strikes on and near the plant, heightening concerns of an atomic calamity.
Following the annexations, Washington declared “strong” additional penalties against Russian leaders and the defense sector, as well as G7 support for putting “costs” on any nation that supports annexation.

President Zelensky has pushed NATO, which is led by the United States, to grant his country expedited membership.

He also stated that he would never have discussions with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin was in office.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the annexation as “illegal and illegitimate,” but remained noncommittal when Ukraine announced its intention to join the Western alliance.

The takeover of Crimea by Russia was described as a “grave breach of the established principles of international law” by Turkey on Saturday.

Despite Vladimir Putin’s earlier claims that he would use nuclear weapons to protect the conquered regions, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Kyiv will “continue freeing our territory and our people.”

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