After the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lyman in the east of the country, Ukraine says it has regained full control of the city. Lyman was "completely evacuated," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to military experts, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin himself ordered the withdrawal to strengthen the front in other areas. For Kyiv it was another military victory. In the south, on the other hand, according to the Kremlin, Ukrainian troops are said to have suffered severe losses. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced further arms deliveries for the country after a visit to Ukraine. The 220th day of the war at a glance.
Lambrecht assures Ukraine of further arms deliveries
Defense Minister Lambrecht announced the delivery of 16 Slovak-made self-propelled howitzers to the Ukraine for the coming year. The Zuzana-type systems are produced in Slovakia and financed jointly with Denmark, Norway and Germany, the SPD politician told the ARD program "Report from Berlin" on February 24 after returning from her first trip to Ukraine since the beginning of the war . During her visit to the Black Sea city of Odessa, Lambrecht had assured Ukraine that the first unit of the IRIS-T SLM air defense system would be delivered quickly. Germany initially wants to make four of the 140 million euro systems available to Kyiv. Funding for three more has been secured.
Russia reports fighting against Ukrainian troops in the south
According to information from Moscow, Ukrainian troops launched an offensive in the south of the country. They are said to have suffered many casualties. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, fighting took place in the Mykolaiv region and the village of Andriivka in the Kherson region. More than 240 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 31 tanks destroyed. As a rule, information from the war zone cannot be verified at all or only with difficulty.
Experts: Putin himself ordered the withdrawal from Lyman
The military experts at the renowned Institute for the Study of War see the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lyman "almost certainly" as a conscious decision by Putin. It was not the commanders who decided that the front lines near the cities of Kupyansk or Lyman would not be reinforced, but the president himself. It indicates that Putin wants to make more efforts to secure strategic areas in the Cherson and Zaporizhia regions. Lyman is located in the Donetsk region.
According to estimates by British intelligence, the Russians suffered heavy casualties while retreating from Lyman. The city was allegedly previously defended by undermanned Russian units and reservists. Many soldiers were said to have died when retreating via the only road out of the city that was still under Russian control. There was no official information from either Kyiv or Moscow. More than seven months after the start of the war, Russia's president on Friday annexed Donetsk as well as the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Cherson and Zaporizhia - although Moscow's troops only partially control them. Internationally, this illegal step is not recognized.
Russian court: annexation of Ukrainian territories is legal
Russia's constitutional court, on the other hand, sees no violation of Russian laws in the internationally unrecognized annexation of four Ukrainian regions. The court said that the admission of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts into the Russian Federation is in line with the constitution.
As a reaction to the annexation of the Ukrainian territories and the further escalation in the war, Germany summoned the Russian ambassador. In Italy, too, the ambassador there was summoned for Monday, in Belgium this happened on Friday.
Russia: More than 180 men called up at border attempt to escape
According to its own statements, Russia has already stopped more than 180 conscripts attempting to flee from being drafted into the military on the border with neighboring Georgia. The Interfax agency reported that they were handed a call-up notice directly at the Werchni Lars border crossing. The partial mobilization ordered by Putin around ten days ago triggered a real mass exodus in Russia. Tens of thousands of men fled not only to Georgia in the South Caucasus, but also to the Central Asian ex-Soviet states of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In view of the influx of refugees, the North Ossetia region had imposed transit restrictions last week. In addition, it had already been announced that men of military age should now be checked more intensively at the border.
Pope appeals to Putin and Zelenskyy
In view of the escalation of the war, Pope Francis asked Kremlin chief Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to give in. His appeal is primarily aimed at Putin, whom he asked to stop the spiral of violence and death, also for the benefit of his own people. Francis said he was "deeply saddened by the torrents of blood and tears that have been shed these months." "On the other hand, being deeply saddened by the immeasurable suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the aggression they have endured, I also confidently appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious peace proposals."
Lauterbach: Are at war with Putin
Health department head Karl Lauterbach was the first federal minister to say that Germany was "at war" with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The SPD politician used the phrase on Twitter on Saturday night in response to a suggestion that individual NATO countries should guarantee Russia that Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO, thus paving the way for negotiations to end Russia's war of aggression against the country to prepare. Defense Minister Lambrecht contradicted her cabinet and party colleagues. "It is very clear - both for the German government and for the entire NATO: We will not be a party to the war," said Lambrecht on the ARD program "Report from Berlin".
More texts on the Ukraine war:
You can read all further developments in our live ticker.