Ukraine’s rapid advance leaves retreating Russian forces in shocked confusion

Russian troops were forced to abandon positions around the entire northern Kharkiv region back to Russia, the Defense Ministry admitted, a withdrawal analysts called a shock defeat and a possible turning point in the war.

Carniolan soldiers in Kharkiv said they saw Russian commanders “literally ran away” and soldiers donned civilian clothes to escape Ukraine’s surprise offensive.

The impressive Ukrainian attack has recaptured dozens of villages and towns, some north of Kharkiv on the border with Russia, leading to a near-complete collapse of the Russian front in the north-eastern region.

Analysts said that all Russian forces are now fleeing the Kharkiv region, and even pro-Russian military bloggers admitted that the Russian front in the region has collapsed.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said around 1,158 square kilometers had been recaptured.

“Our troops have entered Kupyansk. The liberation of the Kupyansk and Izyum districts in the Kharkiv region is underway,” it said.

Several Ukrainian cities reported power outages last night, with Ukrainian bloggers and social media users reporting Russian missile attacks.

They said these were “revenge strikes” after the collapse of the Russian army around Kharkiv. Russian channels on Telegram said at least two power plants in Kremenchuk and Kharkiv were hit by precision missiles last night.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted: “Total blackout in Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, partial blackout in Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions. RF terrorists remain terrorists and attack critical infrastructure. No military facilities, the aim is to deprive people of light and heat. #Russia is a terrorist state.”

The governor of the eastern Kharkiv region said Russian attacks on “critical infrastructure” cut off power and water supplies, while the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region claimed Moscow’s forces “hit energy infrastructure” in retaliation for the “battlefield defeat.”

Kupiansk and Izyum were fiercely contested, and their conquest by Russia was hotly celebrated by the Kremlin early in the war.

They are also considered important hubs for supplying Russian forces in Donbass.

A video from Izyum shows five soldiers standing on the roof of a destroyed government building, firing shots in the air, waving the Ukrainian flag and shouting “Honour to Ukraine!”

Various videos show Ukrainian soldiers being warmly greeted by locals in Kharkiv with hot meals, flowers and hugs.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that Russia is ready to sit down for peace talks as Ukraine’s armed forces advance. Even the Russian Defense Ministry has admitted that it can no longer hold the Kharkiv region.

During the daily video briefing by Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, a map flashed showing that the Russian Defense Ministry now considered only a piece of land east of the Oskil River to be under its control.

Lieutenant General Konashenkov was mocked by pro-Ukrainian social media users. Meanwhile, Russian military bloggers are increasingly frustrated with the Kremlin’s policies.

“Not saying a word about the realities surrounding Kharkiv is betraying those who fought and are still fighting there,” the pro-Russian blogger Military Informant told his 462,000 subscribers.

The extent of the Russian defeat around Kharkiv is only just beginning to emerge, but videos and photos uploaded online show dozens and dozens of abandoned tanks and other equipment. Body armor and guns, food and clothing were also thrown away by the fleeing Russian army.

Western analysts confirmed that Ukrainian forces appeared to have captured most of the Kharkiv region. “It now seems confirmed that there is a general Russian withdrawal from Kharkiv Oblast,” said James Rushton, a UK defense analyst based in Ukraine.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War has been blunt in its assessment of the performance of the Russian armed forces. “Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast has routed Russian troops and collapsed Russia’s northern Donbass axis,” it said. “Russian forces are not conducting a controlled retreat.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Ukraine’s rapid advance leaves retreating Russian forces in shocked confusion

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