The military experts at the renowned Institute for the Study of War consider Russian President Vladimir Putin to be the driving force behind the withdrawal of Kremlin troops from the strategically important city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine. "The decision not to strengthen the vulnerable front lines of Kupyansk and Luhansk was almost certainly made by Putin and not by the military leadership," writes the Washington institute in an initial analysis. The move suggested that Putin — reportedly micromanaging Russian commanders on the ground — is far more concerned with defending the strategic areas of the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions to the south than that of Luhansk Oblast.
Ukrainian and Russian sources agree that Russian forces continued to strengthen their positions in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions despite the recent collapse of the Kharkiv-Izyum front and even during the collapse of Russian positions around Luhansk.
The ISW experts also report a "failed ground attack" by Russian troops on the town of Kosatscha Lopan in the northern area of Kharkiv. According to the general staff in Kyiv, Ukrainian soldiers repelled the attack five kilometers from the Russian border. Such attacks indicated that Russia's likely continued goal of regaining control of territories beyond the regions it had illegally annexed and was prepared to use its forces for such offensive actions, rather than for defense against the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Donbass.
Military historian Phillips P. O'Brien wrote on Twitter that Lyman's Ukrainian success was "more impressive" than success in the Kharkiv region. "The Ukrainians will probably never again find an area that is so poorly defended (by the Russians) as Kharkiv," Obrien said. Lyman, on the other hand, was made an important base by the Russians before their defeat, "it seems like they had a lot of troops there". According to British intelligence, Russia suffered heavy losses while withdrawing from Lyman.
Basically, the Ukrainian army is trying to drive the Russians out of the east and west of their country by attacking enemy supply lines and logistics, Obrien explained. "I think the way the Ukrainians captured Lyman and drove out the Russian troops shows how they intend to wage war in the coming months."
Sources: Institute for the Study of War, Phillips P. O'Brien on Twitter, with DPA.