Ukraine troops sweep ahead after Russian collapse in northeast

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  • Ukraine says it has recaptured 20 more settlements in a day
  • Britain says Moscow may have ordered a withdrawal across the river
  • Months of Russian gains unraveled within days

KYIV/KARKIV, Ukraine, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military on Monday made further gains in territory it captured after fleeing Russian forces, as Moscow grappled with the fallout from the collapse of its occupation forces in northeastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s general staff said early Monday that its forces had recaptured more than 20 towns and villages in the past day, after Russia admitted it had abandoned Izium, its main stronghold in northeastern Ukraine.

“They are being brought under full control and stabilization measures are being taken,” the general staff said of the newly retaken colonies.

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As thousands of Russian troops abandoned their positions, leaving huge stockpiles of ammunition and equipment, Russia on Sunday fired missiles at a power station that caused a blackout in Kharkiv and the adjacent Poltava and Sumy regions.

Ukraine condemned what it described as retaliation against civilian targets for its military advances. By Monday morning, Reuters reporters in Kharkiv said electricity had been restored, although water was still not working. The regional governor said that electricity has been restored by 80%. Moscow, which denies targeting civilian targets, did not comment.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia may have ordered its forces to withdraw from all Kharkiv territory west of the Oskil River, abandoning the main supply route that had sustained Russian operations in the east.

Kiev, which reached Oskil after taking control of the railway hub city of Kupyansk on Saturday, signaled that Russia was already retreating further: the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces had left Svyatov in Luhansk province, about 20 km (12 miles) to the east. Oskill. Reuters could not confirm this.

The British ministry said Moscow’s forces have struggled to bring reserves to the southern front, where Ukraine has launched a major advance into Kherson province aimed at isolating thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

“The majority of (Russian) forces in Ukraine are likely to be forced to prioritize emergency defensive actions,” the British update said. “Rapid Ukrainian successes have significant implications for Russia’s overall operational design.”

unfolding

Ukraine’s most rapid advance since pushing Russian troops away from the capital in March has turned into a six-month war, unraveling within days what Moscow had gained in a costly battle in the east.

Ukraine’s top commander, General Valery Zaluzny, said his forces had captured more than 3,000 square km (1,160 square miles) this month and had entered within 50 km (30 miles) of the border with Russia.

Further Russian retreats, especially east of Oskil, could soon put Ukrainian forces in a position to attack territory held by Russia and its local proxies since 2014.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the pro-Russian separatist proxy administration in Donetsk region, responded to pressure from several directions.

“At least, we have stopped the enemy at Lyman,” he said in a telegram post overnight, referring to the frontline town east of Isium. “We’ll have to see how that develops. But our kids have had clear success.”

He described “successes” in the battles at Bakhmut, where Russia had long concentrated its offensive, and Wuhledar further south.

Moscow has so far remained largely silent since the collapse of the frontline in the northeast last week, with President Vladimir Putin and his senior officials holding back any comment on the “special military operation” they always say is “going to be planned”.

After making no reference to the withdrawal, Russia’s defense ministry acknowledged on Saturday that it had abandoned Izium and neighboring Balaklia, calling it a “regroup” planned to fight in Donetsk.

Russian broadcasters, required by law to report only official accounts, have pointed to the obstacles but have struggled to explain them, with commentators mainly calling for a redoubled war effort.

“We must win the war in Ukraine! We must destroy the Nazi regime!” said a commentator on a panel show on NTV television.

“And how many years will that take?” replied the other. “So my 10-year-olds will have a fighting chance?”

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Reporting by Reuters reporters; Written by Peter Graf; Editing by Frank Jack Daniels

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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