Is Russia fleeing Ukraine?

An image released by the Russian Defense Ministry shows a Russian military convoy heading to the front line in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, at an unidentified location in the course of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, in this still image taken from a cast video released on September 9, 2022 (Reuters) (RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY/)

the surprise ukrainian counteroffensivestarted on September 6, continues to exceed the russian defenses in the northeast of the country. On the morning of September 11, Valery Zaluzhnythe Ukrainian military chief, announced that his forces had recovered more than 3,000 square kilometers in 11 daysmuch more than Russia had captured in several months of intense combat since April. Other reports suggest the figure could be nearly 9,000 square kilometers, an area roughly the size of Cyprus.

There are widespread reports of Russian soldiers retreating in panic, of units being surrounded, and of large amounts of abandoned military hardware. The reconquest of two logistics centers, Izyum Y Kupyanskhas put an end to the great plans of Russia to gain control of the entire donbasthe eastern region of Ukraine. It also opens the possibility that Ukraine take back cities, like Severodonetskthat Russia had snatched after months of bloody fighting.

The defeat of the Russian units, which the kremlin calls a “regrouping” without conviction, suggests that the seven-month war may have reached a turning point. The counteroffensive in the region of Kharkiv It certainly took the Russian high command by surprise. It began on September 6, after two days of intense artillery fire, as an operation to surround the city of Balakliya. Over the next three days, the light units advanced east to capture Kupyanska large rail and road hub.

On September 10, Izyum, another important center nearby, was surrounded after most of the Russian forces fled to the east. Fighting continued on the morning of September 11, but a map published by the Ministry of Defence Russian that same day seemed to suggest that his forces had withdrawn from virtually the entire province of Kharkivto a new defensive line along the river Oskil. It is unclear how long this new line can last, as Ukrainian units continue to push east.

The secret counteroffensive Ukraine it depended on their ability to prevent Russian aircraft from moving freely near the front lines. This was possible thanks to the new anti-radar missilescommunications systems and air defense guns supplied by USA, according to a military source. But the source says the push has also benefited from a hoax.”cunning”. The Ukrainians deliberately reduced the heavy weaponry of the strike force, and the initial advance in Balakliya it included only about 15 tanks, according to Russian reports. In reality, this was a ruse to make the attack appear to be a sham, designed simply to immobilize Russian forces and prevent them from redeploying to defend against the supposed main counteroffensive further south, in the region of Kherson. The Russian high command was guilty of arrogance. “They have always looked at us as a kind of younger brother”, says the source. “It’s time to start respecting each other”.

At one point, the Ukrainian units were moving so fast that the higher-ups were unsure how far they had gone. Open source analysts following the conflict were forced to redraw their maps every hour. Serhiy Haidaygovernor of the Ukrainian region of Luhansksaid he thought it would be just “matter of time” that the Ukrainian troops crossed the river Donuts and they will enter Svatove, Rubizhne, Lysychansk Y Severodonetskcities in the northern part of the region of Luhanskthat Russia he boasted of capturing it in its entirety in early July.

The Russians and the local collaborators were already “running away“, said. “Your lines are disintegrating”. But the next moves of Ukraine would “measured”, calculated to avoid losses, he promised. Oleh Zhdanovformer operations officer of the Ukrainian General Staffsaid that the military leadership of Ukraine I would try to develop the attack at a slower pace. “We have to consolidate the lines of support to the rear. It’s dangerous to go too fast”.

It is speculated that Ukraine now take advantage of the Russian embarrassment to strike elsewhere: either reinforcing a counterattack in Kherson, where advances continue piecemeal, albeit with many casualties, or by opening a third axis of attack elsewhere. It is not clear if Ukraine has a fully formed third combat group ready. The Ukrainian generals are not giving much information, and the military source remains tight-lipped. Ukraine has mobilized people, he says, but “whether the West has given us enough equipment is an open question”.

Some have speculated that Ukraine open another front in the region of Zaporizhiawith a daring race to the south, towards the sea of Azovto deny Vladimir Putinthe president of Russiayour land bridge to crimea. Some Ukrainian officials had pushed for such an offensive before settling on the attack by Kherson. Zhdanov said it was more likely that any operational reserves would be dumped in the area of Izyum-Luhansk to harness the momentum of Ukraine over there.

The Ukrainian offensive has caught the kremlin caught him off guard and made him struggle to find an answer. Pro-War Russian Military Bloggers Livid at Russia’s Humiliation. They blame the Russian generals, their defense minister, Sergei Shoiguand increasingly to his own Putin. Igor Girkinan ultranationalist who led the Russian offensive in donbas in 2014, he predicted a complete defeat of the Russian troops. “We’ve already lost, the rest is just a matter of time”, he told his nearly half a million subscribers on Telegrama popular messaging platform among Russian military observers. Michael Kofmanexpert from the study center CNA, noted that the quality of Russian forces was declining and those in combat were not being rotated often enough to avoid exhaustion. “They do not have the necessary human resources to maintain this war”, he concluded Koffman.

Mr. Putin, for his part, seems oblivious to these problems. As the Ukrainians struggled to reach Izyum On September 10, he continued with his plans to inaugurate a large Ferris wheel in VDNKHa theme park from the time of Stalin in Moscow. The Ferris wheel was the largest Europesaid Putin, the perfect place for a family retreat. Disgruntled Russian bloggers noted with derision that the front lines had been pushed so far to the east that they might be visible from the top. He didn’t say anything about the setbacks on the battlefield. Sergey Lavrovminister of Russian foreign affairsHe projected an air of confidence. Russia could be open to negotiations, he told a Russian television channel, but his adversaries “should understand that the longer they postpone this process, the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us”.

At the moment, the Ukrainian leadership believes that the best way to negotiate is on the battlefield. In a speech delivered on September 10 at the Yalta European Security Foruma meeting of international diplomats, experts and politicians held in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, expressed irritation at unnamed Western leaders pushing him to make a deal with Putin. He was not willing to accept it. “Some leaders push us into superfluous hugs“, said. “No we can’t afford to stop”.

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