Russia withdraws troops after Ukraine encircles key city of Lyman

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia said Saturday it has withdrawn its troops from the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman.

>> Read more trending news

Russia’s Tass and RIA news agencies, which quoted the Russian defense ministry, made the announcement, according to The Associated Press.

“In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, the allied troops were withdrawn” from the city to a “more advantageous” location, the ministry said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Lyman is located in the Kramatorsk district of Donetsk, an area that was annexed by Russia in a move that was declared illegal by Western allies, CNN reported.

The move came after Ukrainian forces said they had surrounded thousands of Russian troops during its counteroffensive in the area, The Washington Post reported.

Ukrainian forces circled the transportation hub late Friday even as the Kremlin hosted a ceremony and pop concert celebrating the annexation, according to the newspaper.

Ukrainian troops also recaptured villages near Lyman, Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces, told the Post on Saturday.

The acknowledgment of Russian troop withdrawals came after Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a video on Twitter showing two soldiers unfurling the country’s yellow-and-blue flag at a city limits sign, The New York Times reported. The army “will always have the decisive vote in today’s and any future ‘referendums,’” the video added, referencing Russia’s annexation process.