Russian troops retreat as Ukrainian counteroffensive makes rapid progress

Ukrainian forces on Sunday pushed its counteroffensive within the nation’s east, exploiting fast positive factors they made in per week of combating that has sharply modified the course of the battle.

Ukraine’s fast motion to reclaim Russia-occupied areas within the northeastern Kharkiv area pressured Moscow to withdraw its troops to stop them from being surrounded and go away behind vital numbers of weapons and munitions in a hasty retreat because the struggle marked 200 days on Sunday.

The jubilant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mocked the Russians in a video deal with late Saturday, saying that “the Russian military in today is demonstrating one of the best that it will possibly do — exhibiting its again.”

On Sunday, he posted a video of Ukrainian troopers hoisting the nationwide flag over Chkalovske, one other city they reclaimed from the Russians within the counteroffensive.

Ukraine’s navy chief, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyy, stated Sunday that Ukraine had liberated about 3,000 sq. kilometers, or about 1,160 sq. miles, for the reason that starting of September. He famous that the Ukrainian troops are actually simply 50 kilometers, or about 30 miles, away from the border with Russia.

The Russians’ pullback marked the most important battlefield success for Ukrainian forces since they thwarted a Russian try and seize the capital, Kyiv, firstly of the practically seven-month struggle. Ukraine’s assault within the Kharkiv area got here as a shock for Moscow, which had relocated lots of its troops from the realm to the south in expectation of the principle Ukrainian counteroffensive there.

Ukrainian army takes control of town in southeast
Humanitarian help is distributed to residents after the Ukrainian military liberated the city of Balakliya within the southeastern Kharkiv oblast on Sept. 11, 2022.

Metin Aktas/Anadolu Company through Getty Photos

In an ungainly try to save lots of face, the Russian Protection Ministry stated Saturday the troops’ withdrawal from Izyum and different areas within the Kharkiv area was supposed to strengthen Russian forces within the neighboring Donetsk area to the south.

The declare sounded just like the justification Russia gave for pulling again its forces from the Kyiv area earlier this 12 months after they did not take the capital.

The group of Russian forces round Izyum has been key for Moscow’s effort to seize the Donetsk area, and their pullback will now dramatically weaken the Russian functionality to press its offensive to Ukrainian strongholds of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk simply south.

Igor Strelkov, who led Russia-backed separatists within the early months of the battle within the Donbas when it erupted in 2014, mocked the Russian Protection Ministry’s rationalization of the retreat, suggesting that handing over Russia’s personal territory close to the border to Ukraine as a “contribution to Ukrainian settlement.”

The retreat drew indignant feedback from Russian navy bloggers and nationalist commentators, who bemoaned it as a serious defeat and urged the Kremlin to reply by stepping up struggle efforts. Many scathingly criticized Russian authorities for persevering with with fireworks and different lavish festivities in Moscow that marked a metropolis vacation on Saturday regardless of the debacle in Ukraine.

Simply because the Russian forces have been unexpectedly pulling again from Izyum below Ukrainian hearth, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the opening of an enormous remark wheel at a Moscow park, a brand new transport hyperlink and a sports activities area.

The motion underlined the Kremlin’s effort to maintain pretending that the struggle it calls a “particular navy operation” was going in accordance with plan with out affecting the state of affairs within the nation.

Professional-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov criticized the festivities in Moscow as a grave political mistake.

“The fireworks in Moscow on a tragic day of Russia’s navy defeat may have extraordinarily critical political penalties,” Markov wrote on his messaging app channel. “Authorities mustn’t have a good time when individuals are mourning.”

In an indication of potential rift within the Russian management, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed chief of Chechnya, stated that the retreat from the Kharkiv area resulted from the Russian navy management’s blunders.

“They’ve made errors and I believe they’ll draw the required conclusions,” Kadyrov stated. “If they do not make adjustments within the technique of conducting the particular navy operation within the subsequent day or two, I can be pressured to contact the management of the Protection Ministry and the management of the nation to clarify the actual state of affairs on the bottom.”

Ukrainian Protection Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated in televised feedback Saturday that the Russians have been minimize off from provide traces and predicted extra positive factors.

“It is going to be like an avalanche,” he stated, predicting a Russian fallback. “One line of protection will shake, and it’ll fall.”

Regardless of Ukraine’s positive factors, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the top of NATO warned Friday that the struggle would possible drag on for months. Blinken stated the battle was getting into a important interval and urged Ukraine’s Western backers to maintain up their assist by means of what might be a tough winter.

In one other main growth Sunday, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, was reconnected to Ukraine’s electrical energy grid, permitting engineers to close down its final operational reactor in an try and keep away from a radiation catastrophe as combating rages within the space.

For a number of earlier days, the plant was working in “island mode” with simply one in every of its six-reactors working to energy cooling techniques and different essential gear.

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