Ukraine has recaptured its first village in Luhansk, a region it took Russian forces five months to subdue and capture.
elogorovka is the latest prize for the counteroffensive pushing Russia away from second-largest city Kharkiv. The village is only about a dozen kilometers from the cities of Lysychansk and Severdonestsk, major regional economic centers in the wider Donbass region, which the Kremlin has pledged to defend at all costs.
The village is also 45 miles east of the Oskil River, where Russian troops fled after a Ukrainian offensive around Kharkov recaptured an area the size of Devon in a matter of days.
Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian head of Luhansk, said his country’s soldiers now have “full control” of Belogorovka.
“All of us should be patient in anticipation of a large-scale deoccupation of the Luhansk region,” he said.
Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk rebelled against Ukraine in 2014 and waged a war to create pro-Russian pseudo-states. The Kremlin used their defenses as a pretext to launch its invasion of Ukraine in February.
But now, armed with hi-tech Western weaponry, US intelligence and sky-high morale, Ukrainian forces have vowed to retake all of Luhansk.
This would be a further humiliation for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, whose armed forces celebrated the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Luhansk in early July.
Building on Russia’s massive artillery advantage, their offensive had been grueling and destructive. However, Ukrainian forces withdrew, regrouped and planned a massive counterattack based on a subterfuge that caught Russia’s exhausted forces off guard.
When Ukrainian forces attacked around Kharkiv two weeks ago, Russia’s weak defenses collapsed and its soldiers fled.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has now released images of a captured T90-M tank, the most modern in the Russian army, which was left behind when Russian soldiers were routed.
If the Ukrainians cross the Oskil River at depth, the Russians may have to fall far behind
“A sign of an army in crisis,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews.
Despite Mr Gaidai’s caution, Prof O’Brien said Ukrainian forces can now pause and then push to retake all of Luhansk and the essential supply lines that run from the southern Russian city of Belgorod to the Donbass.
“If the Ukrainians cross the Oskil River at depth, the Russians may have to fall far behind,” he said.
In a bid to capture Luhansk earlier this year, Russian forces bombed civilians and Ukrainian defenders. Cities were reduced to rubble and thousands of people fled.
And life under Russian occupation was also brutal.
Investigators have found around 400 bodies in shallow graves in Izyum, a town in the Kharkiv region near Luhansk that Ukrainian troops liberated last week. Some had their hands tied behind their backs and showed signs of torture.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Ukrainian energy officials said Russia fired missiles at southern Ukraine’s nuclear power plant in the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in the Mykolayiv region.
Analysts have said the Kremlin may wish to divert attention from its military backlash. Their international credibility was also hit after it was revealed that Armenian and Azerbaijani officials will fly to New York for US-brokered peace talks.
This reflects the Kremlin’s crumbling authority since it invaded Ukraine.
The Kremlin has so far seen itself as the most important ruler in the former Soviet South Caucasus.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/a-sign-of-an-army-in-crisis-ukraine-counter-offensive-liberates-first-luhansk-village-from-russians-42002753.html “A sign of an army in crisis” – Ukraine’s counter-offensive liberates first village of Lugansk from Russians