The speed of Ukraine’s fightback against Russia’s offensive has apparently caught Moscow’s military off-guard, bringing swathes of territory Russia had controlled for months back into Ukraine’s fold.
Ukraine says its forces are pushing back Russia’s military from strategic holdouts in the east of the country, with Kiev’s military announcing that as much as 3,000 square kilometres have been wrested from Russia in September.
“The liberation of settlements in the Kupiansk and Izyum districts of the Kharkiv region is ongoing,” the Ukrainian military said in a general battlefield update on Sunday, 200 days into Russia’s campaign.
These are key supply and logistics hubs that Russia depends on to restock its frontline positions in the east. Military observers say their capture by Ukraine would be a serious blow to Moscow’s military ambitions in Kharkiv.
In images posted by the Ukrainian military, crates of dumped munitions and abandoned military hardware could be seen scattered in territory left by the Russian forces.
The speed of Ukraine’s fightback against Russia’s offensive has apparently caught Moscow’s military off-guard, bringing swathes of territory Russia had controlled for months back into Ukraine’s fold and forcing Moscow to announce a retreat in Kharkiv.
‘Weapons, weapons, weapons’
The head of the Ukrainian military announced early on Sunday that as much as 3,000 square kilometres had been wrested from Russia since the offensive began at the beginning of this month.
That figure is already around one-third larger than the total area announced by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy late Saturday.
On Sunday, he announced that Ukraine forces had taken a village of around 4,000 people between Kharkiv and Izyum.
“The great Ukrainian flag has been returned to Chkalovske. And it will be like that everywhere. We will cast out the occupiers from every Ukrainian town and village,” he said in a video online.
Ukrainian officials this weekend hailed the “astonishing” pace of the counter-offensive. And on Sunday, the country’s foreign minister used the momentum to appeal to Western allies for more supplies of sophisticated weapons.
“Weapons, weapons, weapons have been on our agenda since spring. I am grateful to partners who have answered our call: Ukraine’s battlefield successes are our shared ones,” Dmytro Kuleba said.
“Prompt supplies bring victory and peace closer,” his statement on social media read.
The reaction in Moscow to the Ukrainian gains so far has been muted. Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces were hitting Ukrainian army positions in the Kharkiv region with precision strikes carried out by airborne troops, missiles and artillery.
And a Russian official in the border region of Belgorod said “thousands” of people had fled the Kharkiv region over the border and into Russia.
More than 1,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, said in a video statement on social media.
The Russian military made the surprise announcement on Saturday that it was “regrouping” its forces from Kharkiv to the Donetsk region just south to focus its military efforts there.
But the announcement came shortly after Moscow also said it was actually sending reinforcements towards Kharkiv.
Russian forces are on back foot in northeastern Ukraine, where local forces have made rapid gains over past week pic.twitter.com/7UD0eZUpwj
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 11, 2022
Source: TRTWorld and agencies