During a recent broadcast on Russian-state TV, pundits were stunned by Ukraine’s liberation of the city of Lyman, while some expressed fears that Kyiv could order the bombing of Moscow next.
Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov of the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the retreat of Russian troops just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on Friday that the city, and the region of Eastern Ukraine under its control, had been annexed.
The recapture of Lyman, which is located in the Donetsk region and was being used as a transport and logistics hub, represents a major embarrassment for Putin who threw a huge celebration in the Russian capital to welcome the newly annexed territories as part of the country.
Ukraine and NATO allies do not recognize the annexation, however, and have repeatedly said the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, as well as Crimea, are territories that should be returned to Kyiv’s control.
Former Russian Foreign Deputy Minister Andrei Fedorov was one of several pundits who expressed concern over the humiliating defeat and said that Ukraine could bomb Moscow.
In a video posted to Twitter on Saturday by Julia Davis, founder of the Russian Media Monitor, Fedorov said: “Radical changes are taking place because Russia occupied, or rather they say, annexed these areas and for that reason, Ukraine is starting a war to liberate these territories. Not some kind of special operation, but a war.”
In response to a question about what action Ukraine might take next, Fedorov said that Kyiv officials could authorize a direct strike deep into Russian territory.
When asked whether Moscow could be struck, Fedorov responded: “Yes, of course.”
Since the outbreak of the war in late February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has not threatened to bomb Moscow.
There were others on the panel who questioned how the annexation was handled, with commentator Maxim Yusin adding: “Ask anyone here when they’re in the make-up room. I think anyone will honestly admit that they don’t know whether the mobilization will help us or not to change the course of military actions. I don’t remember the precedent in world history when territories we don’t even control were absorbed into the country.”
He continued: “So far, things aren’t going so well. It’s easy to say: ‘after the liberation of Zaporizhzhya’. Yeah, try liberating it, the way everything is going.”
The liberation of Lyman also led Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to question whether nuclear weapons should be used to maintain control of the Eastern European country.
In an October 1 Telegram post, Kadyrov wrote: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons. It is not necessary to take every decision with an eye on the Western American community – it has already said so and done a lot against us.”
Newsweek has contacted the Kremlin, Zelensky’s office, and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) for comment.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has retaken swathes of its territory as part of a larger counteroffensive that started last month. The significant gains forced Putin to order a partial military mobilization of 300,000 reservists in a desperate bid to keep the regions in Eastern Ukraine under his control.