Thousands of Russian soldiers are surrounded by the Ukrainian army in the Lyman Fortress

Ukraine has encircled thousands of Russian troops in the eastern town of Lyman, a bastion critical to Moscow, in an operation still ongoing, a Ukrainian military spokesman said on Saturday.

The capture of the city, which Russia uses as a logistics and transportation hub for its operations in northern Donetsk region, would be another setback for the Kremlin’s plan to conquer the entire industrial Donbass region.

“The Russian group in the Lyman area is surrounded,” said Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Armed Forces.

“Lyman is important because it is the next step in liberating Ukraine’s Donbass. It’s an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk and it’s very important psychologically,” he said.

Russia’s forces at Lyman totaled about 5,000 to 5,500 troops, but the number of encircled troops may have decreased due to casualties and some soldiers trying to break out of the encirclement, he told Cherevatyi.

He said Russian troops were making unsuccessful attempts to break out of the encirclement.

“Some are surrendering, they have many dead and wounded, but the operation is not over yet,” he said.

Nuclear power plant director “kidnapped”

The general director of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was detained by a Russian patrol, the state-owned company Energoatom, which is in charge of the power plant, said on Saturday.

Ihor Murashov was arrested around 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Friday while traveling from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant to the city of Enerhodar, company boss Petro Kotin said in a statement.

“He was taken out of the car and driven blindfolded in an unknown direction,” Kotin wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that there was no immediate word on Murashov’s fate.

The Zaporizhia facility has been a focal point of the seven-month Russian invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of shelling the facility and risking a nuclear catastrophe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the area around the plant occupied by Ukrainians to be demilitarized.

Murashov “has primary and exclusive responsibility for the nuclear and radiation safety” of the power plant, and his arrest “endangers the operational safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” Kotin said.

He called on the Russian armed forces to “immediately stop the nuclear acts of terrorism against the plant’s management and personnel” and to release Murashov.

Nord Stream leaks could be the largest methane leaks ever recorded

The ruptures in the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline system under the Baltic Sea have led to what is likely the largest single release of climate-damaging methane ever recorded, the United Nations Environment Program said on Friday.

A huge plume of highly concentrated methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent but short-lived than carbon dioxide, was spotted this week in an analysis of satellite imagery by researchers linked to UNEP’s International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), the said Organization.

“This is really bad, most likely the largest emission event ever detected,” Manfredi Caltagirone, head of IMEO for UNEP, told Reuters. “That’s not helpful at a moment when we absolutely need to reduce emissions.”

Researchers from GHGSat, which uses satellites to monitor methane emissions, estimated the leak rate at one of the four fracture sites was 22,920 kilograms per hour. That’s the equivalent of burning about 630,000 pounds of coal per hour, GHGSat said in a statement.

“This rate is very high, especially considering that four days have passed since the first breach,” the company said.

The total amount of methane escaping from the Gazprom-led GAZP.MM pipeline system may be higher than a major leak that occurred in December from offshore oil and gas fields in Mexican Gulf waters, which caused around 100 tons of methane were escaping every hour, Caltagirone said.

Broad opposition to Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced the annexation of four regions in Ukraine, while Kyiv said it would continue its fight to retake occupied lands.

Before signing documents to annex the four regions – an act denounced as illegal by Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and the UN chief – Putin delivered a 37-minute anti-Western diatribe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that the country is officially applying for accelerated membership of the NATO military alliance and that Kyiv is ready for talks with Moscow, but not while Putin is president.

The United States responded to the annexations on Friday by imposing more sanctions on Russia, targeting hundreds of people and companies, including those in Russia’s military-industrial complex and lawmakers.

Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution brought by the United States and Albania condemning Moscow’s proclaimed annexations, with Russia’s strategic partner China abstaining.

With agency reporting Thousands of Russian soldiers are surrounded by the Ukrainian army in the Lyman Fortress

Fry Electronics Team

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