Ukrainian forces continued to counterattack in Kharkiv, seeking to gain control of nearly all of the province, with Russia launching dozens of air and missile strikes on power plants and other sites. In apparent revenge for Kyiv’s success.
Ukrainian troops headed north, reportedly recapturing the country all the way to the Russian border, and a video of a Ukrainian soldier circulated In the center of the strategic city of Iseum As the week-long counter-offensive continues in the northeast.
Late on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had retaken 6,000 square kilometers (2,320 square miles) since the counter-offensive began at the beginning of September.
“Since the beginning of September, our soldiers have already liberated 6000 square kilometers of Ukrainian lands in the east and south, and we are moving further,” Zelensky said in his daily speech.
The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Senehubov, said that “the enemy hastily abandons its positions and flees deep into the previously occupied territories” and that “in some areas of the front our defenders have reached the state border.”
Russia responded with missile strikes that cut off electricity and water supplies to the city of Kharkiv for the second time in less than 24 hours, and canceled Monday morning just hours after city authorities restored 80% of the facilities cut overnight.
Ukraine also said Russia was involved in 18 missiles and 39 air strikes overnight. The presidential office in Kyiv added that at least four civilians were killed and 11 wounded in Russian attacks in nine regions.
Ukrainian MP, Inna Sovson, said on Monday that war crimes investigators had found four “corpses bearing signs of torture” in one of the newly liberated villages in the Kharkiv region. She added that other bodies of civilians were recovered after the Russian forces left the area.
An Izim official said at least 1,000 residents had died as a result of the six months of fighting, but cautioned that the true figure could be much higher. Maxim Strelnikov, a city council member, said the city’s medical facilities and 80% of its infrastructure had been destroyed, adding: “Izyum has suffered greatly because of Russian aggression.”
The Kremlin said 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 that “the military operation is continuing” and “will continue until the objectives that were originally set are achieved.” .
Later, Vladimir Putin appeared on state television presiding over a meeting on the economy in which he did not mention the military situation and said that Russia is teetering in the face of Western sanctions. “The tactics of economic blitzkrieg, and the offensive that they were counting on, did not work,” said the Russian president.
In response to the missile strikes, his defiant Ukrainian counterpart said the attacks on the country’s power grid – which are particularly feared in the run-up to winter – would not frighten people.
“Do you still think that you can intimidate us, smash us, force us to make concessions?” Zelensky said. “Cold and hunger and darkness and thirst for us are not as frightening and deadly as your friendship and brotherhood. We shall be with gas, lights, water, and food, and without you.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday morning it believed Russia was likely to have ordered its forces to withdraw from “the entire occupied territory of Kharkiv west of the Oskil River”, a retreat that appeared to appear on maps released by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Sunday.
Pockets of Russian resistance remain but the UK ministry said: “Since Wednesday, Ukraine has retaken territory at least twice the size of Greater London” in successes likely to have “significant implications for Russia’s overall operational design”.
Ukraine has reclaimed more than 1,160 square miles (3,000 square kilometers) of territory since last Tuesday, prompting Russian forces to leave territory west of the Oskil River they were planning to occupy permanently from Izyum to the border.
Videos on social media showed tanks and other armored vehicles abandoned in the Russian camp. Ukraine’s military intelligence said the fleeing soldiers engaged in “mass looting, loading generators, phones, and computers that were transferred from the Ukrainians to their cars.” The office said some schools were robbed and sports equipment stolen from gyms.
Russian military bloggers have said that the Kremlin’s goal is to establish a new front along Oskil, although it is unclear whether this can be achieved or whether Ukraine will be able to move forward in Luhansk province, which has been controlled almost entirely by Russians since July.
Ukraine’s Luhansk governor, Serhiy Heyday, said Russian troops fled Svatovo, about 30 miles east of Oskil, which was captured over the weekend, the first important town of Kobyansk that was recently retaken. On Monday, he said only Luhansk separatist forces remained.
Ukraine’s goal was to capture Izyum, which Zelensky confirmed was held on Sunday night. Izyum, a gateway to Donbass cities still under Ukrainian control, was lost in heavy fighting in March.
“Ukrainian forces inflicted a major operational defeat on Russia, recapturing almost all of the Kharkiv region in a swift counterattack,” said the Institute for the Study of War, an American think tank.
The GUR claimed that the general commanding the Western Army Group of Russia was dismissed following the withdrawal in the Kharkiv region. It reported that General Roman Berdnikov was replaced after less than three weeks in office, but there was no confirmation from Russia.
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