The Ukrainian counter-offensive in the northeast of the country inflicted an extraordinary defeat on Moscowprompting the Russian military to withdraw thousands of troops after suffering a series of battlefield defeats.
Ukraine seems to have regained control of the two key cities of Kupyansk and Izium after a major counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region in recent days, having caught up with Russian forces with a well-publicized southern Ukrainian offensive divert Russia’s attention from the real one that is preparing in Kharkiv Region.
Photos released by Ukrainian security forces showed soldiers raising the national flag in Kupyanskan important logistical hub for Russian forces in the East Ukrainewhere the railway lines connecting Russia with eastern Ukraine converge and which in recent months has supplied Russian forces in north-eastern Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed the withdrawal of its troops from Izium, the main base of the Muscovite forces in Kharkiv, saying they were “clustered” so that efforts could be intensified in Donetsk. Recapturing Izium is perhaps Ukraine’s most significant success in repelling the Russians since the invasion began.
The Ukrainian flag was also raised in the town of Balakliyaaccording to the Kharkiv regional governor.
The UK Ministry of Defense said Russian forces were “probably taken by surprise” by the counter-offensive. The high-profile southern Ukrainian offensive was a disinformation campaign aimed at distracting Russia’s attention from the real offensive being prepared in the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian special forces said. “[Russia] thought it would be in the south and moved their equipment. Then, instead of from the south, the offensive took place where they least expected it, which made them panic and flee,” said Taras Berezovets, a former national security adviser turned press secretary for the Bohun Brigade of the Ukrainian Special Forces.
In a video address on Saturday, the President, Volodymyr Zelenskysaid Ukrainian forces had liberated around 2,000 km2 (700 square miles) of territory since the start of the counter-offensive against Russia earlier this month, saying: “The Russian army these days is demonstrating its best ability – to show its back” .
Residents of Russian-controlled parts of the Kharkiv region have been told to evacuate in Russia, according to the official Tass news agency.
A woman was killed and at least 20 civilians injured in Russian shelling in Kharkiv districtaccording to the regional governor.
A resident of Izium, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed to the Guardian that Ukrainian troops had entered the town. Prior to this, “Russian occupation forces were rapidly withdrawing, leaving ammunition and equipment behind.”
UN says it has documented ‘torture and ill-treatment’ of POWs held by Russian forces in Ukraine. He also said he had corroborated at least 5,767 civilian deaths, while adding that the actual numbers are “likely considerably higher”.
The Ukrainian military said another 350 Russian soldiers were killedbringing the total number since the start of the invasion to 52,250.
The military also said Russia was also sending 1,300 Chechen fighters to the southern Kherson region.. It comes like western intelligence suggests that Russian forces in Kherson under sustained pressure from Ukrainian attacks.
Despite the gains made by the Ukrainian armed forces, the United States Secretary of StateAntony Blinken, said the war was entering a critical period and he urged Ukraine’s Western backers to maintain their support through what could be a tough winter.