Russia's military retreats as Ukraine gains territory


As Kiev announced significant territory gains in its quick counteroffensive, Russia declared it was withdrawing troops from Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv area.

In the meantime, a rebel leader in the east with support from Moscow said that Russian soldiers were engaged in "difficult" combat with Ukrainian forces in various locations in the eastern Donetsk region.

In addition, a Ukrainian official claimed that troops from Kyiv were advancing on the eastern city of Lysychansk, which was taken by Russian forces in July following severe artillery clashes.

After months of warfare in eastern Ukraine that has been dominated by Moscow, the most dramatic changes in the battlefield dynamics occurred late Saturday with Moscow's announcement of the pullout and Kyiv's assertion that it had entered the town of Kupiansk.

The decision was reached to reassemble Russian forces stationed in the Balakliya and Izyum districts to support operations along the Donetsk front, according to a statement from Russia's defence ministry.

The reduction was announced shortly after photos of camouflage-clad policemen with automatic guns "in Kupiansk," a town of around 27,000 people, were posted on social media by Ukrainian special forces.

According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Vasylenkovo and Artemivka in the Kharkiv region have also been freed by Ukrainian forces.

The Russian army "has showed us its finest (side), its back" in recent days, he claimed. "The occupiers have no place in Ukraine. There never was, he continued.

In a separate speech to the annual Yalta European Strategy forum, Zelensky claimed that Russia was "doing everything to break the resistance of Ukraine, Europe and the world during the 90 days of this (coming) winter," banking on a future waning of Western support for Kyiv due to rising energy costs and heating issues.

It's their last chance to argue, he said.

In the Kharkiv region, which borders Russia and has been either under the authority of Moscow-backed authorities or blasted by its fire for months, observers anticipate additional Ukrainian successes.

"Astonishing" advancement

The fact that Kyiv's forces had also driven out Russian soldiers from Izyum, a key staging area for Moscow's war operations with a population of about 45,000 before the invasion, was not confirmed by any official source.

However, pictures circulating on social media seemed to depict Ukrainian soldiers inside the city, and Russian watchers of the fighting claimed there were early indications Moscow's army had left.

"Ukrainian army are liberating more cities and villages in eastern Ukraine as they advance. Their bravery combined with Western military assistance produces astounding results, according to Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the foreign ministry.

"It's imperative to keep supplying Ukraine with weapons. Gaining peace in Ukraine involves defeating Russia on the battlefield, he continued.

The Ukrainian offensive seems to have mostly taken the Russian military by surprise.

In an effort to send reinforcements to the area, state television on Friday aired footage of Russian tanks, artillery, and support vehicles advancing in columns toward Kharkiv on dirt roads.

However, a day later, Russia declared that it will move forces over a three-day period from Kharkiv to the industrial Donbas region to the south.

houses being gutted

Moscow's ability to resupply its troops on the eastern frontline would suffer significantly from the capture of metropolitan centres like Kupiansk and Izyum, and Russia's control over the east may be significantly weakened.

Electric pylons were fallen, cables were spread across the ground, and houses were destroyed in one community that the advancing Ukrainians took control of, according to AFP journalists.

The journalists came saw abandoned Russian armour bearing the letter "Z"—a representation of Russia's invasion—on the road leading to the town of Balakliya, which had been retaken.

According to a spokesperson on Saturday, Ukrainian forces were also moving forward along parts of the southern front line, in some places moving dozens of kilometres into terrain that had been taken by Russian forces at the start of the invasion.

Six significant explosions were recorded in Nova Kakhovka, a town seized by Russian forces in the southern Kherson region, according to Russian news sources.

Denis Pushilin, the rebel leader in the eastern Donetsk region, claimed that battle was taking place in "a number of other towns," particularly in the northern portion of the area, and that the situation in the town of Lyman was "extremely bad."

German promise

On Saturday, unexpected visit by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to the Ukrainian capital, which she claimed was to show Berlin's support for Ukraine, took place.

It happened a week after Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal travelled to Berlin and reiterated Kyiv's demand for arms.

Baerbock promised to continue making "delivery of weaponry, and with financial and humanitarian support."

Germany has supplemented other Western-supplied weaponry that analysts claim have harmed Russia's supply and command capabilities by sending a variety of weapons to Kyiv in recent weeks.

Following US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit, during which he pledged a roughly $3 billion weapons package for Ukraine, comes one by Baerbock.

The International Monetary Fund's "passive attitude" regarding Ukraine's appeal for assistance to support its economy, which has been severely harmed by the Russian invasion, was again criticised by Shmyhal on Saturday.

Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, also claimed that India had profited from our sacrifices as a result of Western sanctions on Russian energy while speaking at the Yalta forum.

Because "someone dies in Ukraine and someone in Europe applies sanctions," Kuleba claimed that India had the opportunity to purchase Russian oil at "a very low price."

However, a campaign of shelling by Russian forces continued to cause significant harm in the eastern industrial region of Donbas and the city of Kharkiv.

Oleg Synegubov, the region's administrator, reported that two people had been hurt and at least one had died as a result of Russian shelling on Saturday in Kharkiv city's Kholodnogirskiy area.

Earlier, two people had been killed, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, which is a component of Donbas.

Fresh shelling near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility in the south has also caused concern in recent days.


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