September 30, 2022
Russia loses control of major Northeast cities as Ukrainian troops advance

Russia loses control of major Northeast cities as Ukrainian troops advance

The Russian withdrawal was initiated by Ukrainian leaders. (file)

Kyiv:

Moscow on Saturday abandoned its main stronghold in northeastern Ukraine, in a sudden collapse of one of the war’s key front lines after a swift advance by Ukrainian forces.

The rapid fall of Izium in Kharkiv province was Moscow’s worst defeat since the withdrawal of its troops from the capital Kyiv in March. This could prove to be a turning point in the 6-month-old war, in which thousands of Russian soldiers lost ammunition and equipment as they fled.

The Russian army used Izium as a logistics base for one of its main operations – a month-long attack from the north on the Donbass region adjacent to Donetsk and Luhansk.

The state-run TASS news agency quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying it had ordered troops to leave the surrounding area and strengthen operations elsewhere in neighboring Donetsk.

TASS reported that the head of Russia’s administration in Kharkiv asked residents to evacuate the province and flee to Russia to “save lives”. Eyewitnesses described a traffic jam of cars in which people were leaving Russian-held territory.

The Russian withdrawal was initiated by Ukrainian leaders.

“The Russian military is performing to the best of its ability these days – to show its back,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Saturday evening.

He said Ukraine’s armed forces had liberated some 2,000 square kilometers (770 sq mi) of territory since retaliation against Russia earlier this month.

Ukrainian officials declined to confirm that they had recaptured Izium, but Zelensky’s chief of staff Andrey Yermak posted a photo of soldiers on its outskirts and tweeted an emoji of grapes. The name of the city means “raisins.”

“The Russian army is claiming the title of the fastest army in the world…keep running!” Yermak later wrote on Twitter.

The announcement of the Russian withdrawal came hours after Ukrainian troops moved north to capture the city of Kupiansk, the only railway hub that supplies Russia’s entire front line in northeastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials posted pictures of their soldiers early Saturday, waving the country’s blue-and-yellow flag in front of the city hall of Kupiyansk.

It abruptly cut thousands of Russian soldiers from supplies along a front that has seen some of the war’s most intense fighting.

There were signs of trouble elsewhere for Russia with its remaining positions on the Eastern Front, with pro-Russian officials acknowledging difficulties elsewhere.

Zelensky said that the armed forces of Ukraine are advancing in various areas on the front.

mechanized attack

A few days earlier, Kyiv’s forces burst through the front line and have since recaptured dozens of towns and villages in a swift mechanized attack, advancing dozens of kilometers (miles) a day.

TASS quoted the Ministry of Defense of Russia as saying, “To achieve the stated goals of the special military operation for the liberation of the Donbass, the regrouping of Russian troops located in the districts of Balaklia and Izyum is aimed at increasing efforts in the Donetsk direction.” It was decided to do so.” as saying.

The Russian army had left Balaklia a few days earlier.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hannah Malayar, issued a warning note urging people not to report ahead of time that towns were “taken” simply because Ukrainian troops entered, as is in Balaklia.

“A few days ago it was reported that soldiers had entered the city. Today we have finally established control over the city, carried out all necessary activities, and raised the flag,” he said.

In Harakov, one of dozens of villages recaptured by the Ukrainian advance, Reuters saw burned vehicles bearing the “Z” symbol of Russia’s invasion. Ammunition boxes were strewn with rubbish at the places the Russians had left in apparent haste.

“Hello everyone, we are from Russia,” was spray-painted on one wall. Three bodies were lying in a white body bag in a yard.

The regional police chief, Volodymyr Tymoshenko, said Ukrainian police moved the previous day, and checked the identities of local residents, who had been living under Russian occupation since the second day of the invasion.

“The first task is to provide them with the necessary assistance. The next task is to document the crimes committed by the Russian invaders on the areas they temporarily occupied,” he said.

‘Russia is retreating’

A witness in Valuyki, a town in Russia’s Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, told Reuters he saw families from Kupiyansk eating and sleeping in their cars by the side of the road.

“I was in the market today and saw a lot of people from Kupiyansk. They say half the city was taken by the Ukrainian army and Russia is retreating… The battle is drawing to a close,” the witness said. Told.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said officials were providing food and medical aid to people queuing at a crossing in Russia. Senator Andrey Turchak of the Kremlin United Russia party reported more than 400 vehicles at the border.

Ukrainian officials said Russian rockets hit the city of Kharkiv on Saturday evening, killing at least one person and damaging several homes, part of an escalation in shelling since Kyiv’s counter-offensive.

Reuters could not independently confirm the Battlefield accounts.

The sudden abandonment of the front line south of the city of Kharkiv by Russia marked an abrupt end to a period when the war was fought as a relentless grind on a stable front, favoring Moscow’s advantage in crude firepower.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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