Ukraine claimed Monday it had recaptured several more villages in the northeastern part of the country, pushing some Russian forces back to the border between the two countries.
After months of only incremental territorial gains and losses by Kyiv’s and Moscow’s forces, Ukrainian leaders exulted in the sudden advance since the beginning of September in the Kharkiv region. The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged over the weekend it was pulling back forces, saying they were regrouping them in the eastern Donetsk region.
Oleh Syniehubov, the Ukrainian governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, said, “In some areas of the front, our defenders reached the state border with the Russian Federation,” with Russian troops chaotically retreating.
“The Russians were here in the morning. Then at noon, they suddenly started shouting wildly and began to run away, charging off in tanks and armored vehicles,” Dmytro Hrushchenko, a resident of recently liberated Zaliznychne, a small town near the eastern front line, told Sky News.
The general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine said its troops had recaptured more than 20 settlements within the past day. The British Defense Ministry said that in recent days that Kyiv’s forces had reclaimed territory at least the size of the London metropolitan area.
Analysts say that the war is likely to continue into 2023, but the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said Monday that “Ukraine has turned the tide of this war in its favor” through its effective use of Western-supplied weapons like the long-range HIMARS missile system and strategic battlefield maneuvers. “Kyiv will likely increasingly dictate the location and nature of the major fighting.”
In Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials said that power and water that had been cut off by Russia were restored to about 80% of the region’s population.
On social media late Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy taunted Russia, saying, “Do you still think you can intimidate, break us, force us to make concessions? Cold, hunger, darkness, and thirst for us are not as scary and deadly as your ‘friendship’ and ‘brotherhood.’
“We will be with gas, lights, water and food … and WITHOUT you!” he exclaimed.
In Russia, some complaints were voiced, even on state-controlled television, about the setbacks its forces were sustaining.
“People who convinced President (Vladimir) Putin that the operation will be fast and effective … these people really set up all of us,” Boris Nadezhdin, a former parliament member, said on an NTV television talk show. “We’re now at the point here we have to understand that it’s absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using these resources and colonial war methods.”
But the war’s death toll continued to mount, with Ukraine’s presidential office reporting that at least four civilians were killed, and 11 others wounded in a series of Russian attacks in nine regions of the country. Even in liberated Kharkiv, a police station in the city’s center was hit by a missile, setting part of it on fire and killing one person, a regional police chief said.
Russia also shelled Nikopol across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, damaging several buildings there. The last operational reactor in that plant has been shut down to prevent a radiation leak.