Ukraine war: Kyiv counteroffensive continues as clean-up begins in recaptured Lyman

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP, Reuters
A Ukrainian serviceman pictured in the recently recaptured town of Lyman.
A Ukrainian serviceman pictured in the recently recaptured town of Lyman.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

1. Ukraine recaptures more territory in counteroffensive

Ukrainian forces say they have discovered evidence of Russian losses as they continue to make progress on the eastern front.

Images from the frontline show the bodies of a number of Russian soldiers lying in the streets of Lyman.

Russian troops pulled back from the strategic city over the weekend to avoid being encircled by Ukrainian forces.

The Ukrainian military said they had collected the bodies of their comrades from the city, a key logistics and transport hub.

The loss of Lyman was the latest defeat for Moscow and allows Ukraine to press further into Russian-held territories in the Donbas.

On Tuesday, Russian military maps indicated that forces had carried a major retreat in the southern Kherson region.

Ukrainian forces have captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River, according to the Russian-installed regional leader.

Kyiv had already made significant gains in the south, raising flags over the villages of Arkhanhelske, Myroliubivka, Khreshchenivka, Mykhalivka, and Novovorontsovka.

“With numerically superior tank units in the direction of Zolota Balka and Oleksandrivka, the enemy managed to forge deep into our defences,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, referring to two towns in the Kherson region.

The Institute for the Study of War said Kyiv may have pushed through the eastern Donetsk region as far as the border with the neighbouring Luhansk region.

In his nightly address on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "new settlements have been liberated in several regions".

Meanwhile, Russian forces launched more missile strikes at Ukrainian cities on Tuesday.

Several missiles hit Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, damaging its infrastructure and causing power cuts. Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and at least two others, including a 9-year-old girl, were wounded.

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

2. Russia's Federal Council approves annexations

The Ukrainian successes in the east and the south came even as Russia moved to absorb four Ukrainian regions amid the fighting there.

The upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, voted on Tuesday to ratify treaties to make the regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia part of Russia.

The State Duma had already approved the accession pacts after last week’s Kremlin-orchestrated annexation “referendums” that Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed as illegal and fraudulent. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now expected to quickly endorse the annexation treaties.

North Korea is the only UN member state apart from Russia to recognise the “results” of the votes.

On Tuesday, the European Union summoned Russia's envoy to the bloc to condemn Moscow's "unlawful" annexations.

"The EU does not, and will never, recognise this illegal annexation by Russia," the bloc said in a statement. "These decisions by Russia are null and void and cannot produce any legal effect whatsoever."

Russia’s moves to incorporate the Ukrainian regions have been done so hastily that even the exact borders of the territories remain unclear.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Donetsk and Luhansk are joining Russia with the same administrative borders that existed before fighting first broke out in 2014 between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.

The borders of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are still undecided, Peskov added.

Senior Russian lawmakers have called on the Kremlin to annex the entirety of the two southern regions, including areas still under Kyiv’s control.

The confusion about new borders comes as Putin faces growing criticism at home over the logistics of Russia's "partial military mobilisation".

The Kremlin has previously stated that it would defend all its territory by "any means necessary," including nuclear weapons. Russia does not have full control over any of the four Ukrainian regions.

3. Zelenskyy and Musk spar over 'peace deal' proposal

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have slammed billionaire Elon Musk over the Russian invasion.

The Tesla CEO had used a Twitter poll to propose a peace deal between Kyiv and Moscow, based on new UN-supervised referendums in southeastern Ukraine.

Musk also suggested that Ukraine should hold a "neutral status" and should surrender Crimea to Russia, given that an "all-out war" will lead to "a devastating death toll on both sides".

"A victory for Ukraine is unlikely in an all-out war. If you care about the Ukrainian people, seek peace," he wrote.

But Zelenskyy responded with his own Twitter poll, asking his followers "Which Elon Musk do you prefer, the one who supports Ukraine or the one who supports Russia?"

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said "a better peace plan" would include Ukraine's "liberation of its territories, including annexed Crimea", a "demilitarisation and denuclearisation" of Russia and that "war criminals" be brought to international justice.

"F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you, Elon Musk," added the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk.

Moscow has called on Kyiv to "cease hostilities" and "return to the negotiating table" but Zelenskyy said he would not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin was president.

On Tuesday, Zelenskyy signed a decree formally declaring the prospect of any talks with the Kremlin leader “impossible” over the annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

The Kremlin has praised Musk for suggesting a possible peace deal, but other European leaders, including Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, hit out at Musk over his Twitter proposal.

"When someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn't make them [the] legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favour of it. Just saying," Nausėda wrote on Twitter.

4. Russian lawyers inundated with requests for advice

Russian lawyers say they have been swamped with recent legal requests from citizens who do not want to be mobilised for the Ukraine war.

Putin announced last month that 300,000 people would be enlisted, prompting many military-age citizens to flee the country.

Hundreds of thousands have crossed the border to neighbouring countries such as Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland.

The number of issued one-way flight tickets from Russia increased 27% the week after the mobilisation was announced, according to flight ticketing data from Spain-based ForwardKeys.

Lawyers and civil society groups say they are now working flat out to offer advice to those at risk of being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said on Monday that he and his team had delivered advisory webinars to 10,000 company employees. His followers on messaging app Telegram have more than tripled to 466,000 in the past two weeks.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the military has recruited more than 200,000 reservists as part of the partial mobilisation.

The Kremlin had initially stated that only those with military experience would be mobilised to fight, but Putin has acknowledged that mistakes in the process have meant students, the elderly or sick citizens had been drafted.

The governor of the far eastern region of Khabarovsk said on Monday that their military commissar had been fired after half of the newly mobilised men were sent home because they did not meet the criteria to be called up.

US intelligence officials say they have not yet seen evidence of any large-scale reinforcement of Russian forces.

Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP
A statue of Vladimir Lenin is removed from the streets of the city of Kotka in Finland.Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP

5. Finnish city removes last publicly displayed statue of Lenin

A city in southeastern Finland has removed the country’s last publicly displayed statue of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin

Authorities in Kotka say the bronze bust will now be housed in a warehouse of a local museum.

Its removal comes after pressure from residents in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

City museum director Kirsi Niku told Finnish public broadcaster YLE that the statue was designed and constructed by Estonian sculptor Matti Varik in the late 1970s on orders from Moscow.

It was presented to Kotka in 1979 as a gift from Tallinn, a common practice in the former Soviet Union (USSR).

The Kotka city municipality said in a statement that it had decided to stop displaying the statue in June.

"[We] will start a process related to the future use of Pohjoispuistokatu square, which will be planned in cooperation with local artists," said city planning director Markku Hannonen.

"We are looking for a meaningful and wise way to realise the future of the square, and we believe that artists have special skills for this."