Russian forces have likely captured most of the town of Lyman, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in today’s early-morning intelligence update.
This, it added, could be a preliminary operation for the next stage of Moscow’s Donbas offensive.
In its latest assessment, the MoD said Lyman was a strategically important railway junction and access point to important rail and road bridges over the Siverskyy Donets river.
The report read: “In the coming days, Russian units in the area are likely to prioritise forcing a crossing of the river.
“For now, Russia’s main effort likely remains 40km to the east, around the Sieverodonetsk pocket but a bridgehead near Lyman would give Russia an advantage in the potential next phase of the Donbas offensive, when it will likely seek to advance on key Ukrainian-held cities deeper in Donetsk Oblast, Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.”
Speaking to Russian state media on Thursday, Denis Pushilin, leader of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, said if Russia captured the whole of Donetsk and Luhansk, a referendum would be held.
He also said authorities had introduced the Russian ruble and were in the process of implementing a new tax system in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.