Russian forces retreat from stronghold of Lyman hours after Putin declares it Russia’s ‘for ever’; Germany minister visits Ukraine; Nord Stream pipeline leak halted
Russia suffered a humiliating military defeat on Saturday when Ukrainian troops liberated the key eastern city of Lyman, with videos showing them raising a national flag and performing a victory dance. Russia’s ministry of defence admitted its soldiers had retreated. They had been “withdrawn to more advantageous lines”, the ministry said, after their encirclement by Ukrainian forces. The defeat is an embarrassment for Vladimir Putin, who declared on Friday that the city – in the Donetsk region – was Russia’s “for ever”.
Germany’s defence minister, Christine Lambrecht, made a surprise visit to Ukraine – her first since Russia’s invasion in February – as Kyiv urged Berlin to send it battle tanks. Lambrecht visited the southern port city of Odesa on Saturday and met her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, the German defence ministry said.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is no longer leaking under the Baltic Sea because an equilibrium has been reached between the gas and water pressure, pipeline spokesman Ulrich Lissek told AFP. The British prime minster, Liz Truss, has said the series of explosions that severely damaged Russia’s gas pipelines were an act of sabotage.
Belarus is preparing to receive Russian soldiers and equipment, the Kyiv Independent reports. There are about 1,000 Russian soldiers in the country.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada said her country held Russia to account for violating Ukraine’s sovereign airspace by bombing airports, which goes against the 1944 agreement setting out core principles for global aviation. Yuliya Kovaliv told Reuters it was important that all members of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) addressed “such a drastic breach of the Chicago convention”.
Russia failed to win enough votes for re-election to the ICAO’s governing council. The French representative told the assembly after Saturday’s ballot: “When we have votes in our countries, if we don’t like the result, we don’t ask for another vote.” Russia had a place on the UN aviation agency’s 36-member council as one of the “states of chief importance in air transport”.
The head of Russia’s region of Chechnya said Moscow should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine after its battlefield defeat in Lyman. Ramzan Kadyrov said in a message on Telegram addressing Russia’s loss of its stronghold: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”
A superyacht built for an oligarch under sanctions is being discreetly offered for sale for £26m ($29m), with buyers advised that any viewings will be in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Brokers are being warned that the sale of MySky, built for Igor Kesaev – sanctioned over the supply of weapons to the Russian army – should not be advertised online.
Russia has accused the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, of violating the game’s principles by suggesting that Russian athletes might be allowed to return to competition provided they did not support the invasion of Ukraine. Bach told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “This war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”
Russian authorities informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that the head of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was “temporarily detained” for questioning. Ihor Murashov was detained on his way from the Russian-occupied plant – Europe’s largest – to the town of Enerhodar at about 4pm on Friday. Russia is trying to transfer the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Russian energy firm Rosatom, the head of Ukraine’s atomic energy company, Petro Kotin, has told the BBC.
Kharkiv oblast’s governor said Ukrainian authorities found the bodies of at least 20 people in a civilian convoy near the city of Kupiansk. Oleh Syniehubov believed they were killed while they attempted to flee Russian soldiers, according to the Kyiv Independent.
Turkey, which has been at the centre of mediation between the west and Russia, rejected Russia’s annexations in Ukraine, calling the Kremlin’s move on four regions a “grave violation” of international law.