Ukrainian forces continued their counterattack in Kharkiv, seeking to take control of almost the entire province, as Russia launched dozens of airstrikes and missiles on power plants and other sites in retaliation akin to Kyiv’s success.
Ukrainian troops moved north, apparently retaking towns up to the Russian border, and a video of a Ukrainian soldier circulated in the center of the strategic town of Izium as the week-long counter-offensive in the northeast of the country continues.
Kharkiv region governor Oleh Syniehubov said that “the enemy is hastily abandoning its positions and fleeing deep into the previously occupied territories” and that “in some areas of the front our defenders have reached the border of the ‘State”.
Russia responded by launching missile strikes that knocked out electricity and water in the city of Kharkiv for the second time in less than 24 hours, eliminating the two on Monday morning just hours after city authorities restored 80% of public services that had been cut overnight.
Ukraine also said Russia engaged in 18 missiles and 39 airstrikes overnight. At least four civilians were killed and 11 others injured in Russian attacks in nine regions, the presidential office in Kyiv added.
A Ukrainian MP, Inna Sovsun, said on Monday that four “bodies bearing signs of torture” had been found by war crimes investigators in a newly liberated village in the Kharkiv region. Other corpses of civilians were recovered after Russian troops deserted the area, she added.
An Izium official said at least 1,000 residents had died following six months of fighting, but warned the true figure could be much higher. Maksym Strelnikov, a city councilman, said the city’s medical facilities and 80% of its infrastructure had been destroyed and added, “Izium suffered a lot because of Russian aggression.”
The Kremlin said on Monday that Russia will achieve all of its goals in Ukraine. In his first public response to Ukraine’s gains in the Kharkiv region, which began less than a week ago, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday “the military operation continues” and “it will continue until the objectives initially set are achieved”. achieved “.
Later, Vladimir Putin was shown on state television chairing a meeting on the economy during which he made no reference to the military situation and said that Russia was holding firm in the face of Western sanctions. “The economic blitzkrieg tactic, the assault they were counting on, didn’t work,” the Russian president said.
Reacting to the missile strikes, his defiant Ukrainian counterpart said attacks on the country’s power grid – especially feared as winter approaches – would not intimidate people.
“Do you still think you can intimidate us, break us, force us to make concessions? said Volodymyr Zelensky. “Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not so frightening and deadly as your friendship and brotherhood. We will be with gas, lights, water and food and without you.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday morning it believed Russia had likely ordered its troops to withdraw “from the entirety of occupied Kharkiv Oblast west of the Oskil River”, a retreat apparently marked on maps released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday.
Pockets of Russian resistance remain, but the UK ministry said: ‘Since Wednesday, Ukraine has recaptured territory at least twice the size of Greater London’ in successes likely to have ‘significant implications for the design Russia’s global operational system”.
Ukraine has retaken more than 1,160 square miles (3,000 km2) of territory since last Tuesday, driving Russian forces out of territory west of the Oskil River that it had planned to permanently occupy from Izium to the border.
Videos on social media showed tanks and other armored vehicles abandoned during the Russian retreat. Ukrainian military intelligence said the fleeing soldiers engaged in “massive looting, loading generators, phones and computers taken from Ukrainians into their cars”. Some schools were robbed and sports equipment was stolen from gymnasiums, the GUR said.
Russian military bloggers said the Kremlin’s goal was to establish a new front line along the Oskil, although it was unclear whether this could be achieved or whether Ukraine would be able advance into Luhansk Province, which the Russians have almost completely controlled since July.
Ukrainian governor of Luhansk Serhiy Haidai said Russian troops had fled Svatovo, about 30 miles east of Oskil, which was captured over the weekend, and the first major town of Kupyansk recently taken back. Only separatist troops from Luhansk remained, he said on Monday.
Ukraine’s objective was to capture Izium, which Zelenskiy confirmed was captured on Sunday evening. Izium, which is a gateway to Donbas towns still held by Ukraine, was lost in heavy fighting in March.
“Ukrainian forces inflicted a major operational defeat on Russia, recapturing almost all of Kharkiv Oblast in a swift counteroffensive,” said the Institute of the Study of War, a US think tank.
The GUR claimed that the general commanding Army Group West Russia was sacked following the retreat to the Kharkiv region. He reported that General Roman Berdnikov had been replaced after less than three weeks in his post, but there was no confirmation from Russia.
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