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Ukrainian forces seize territory from Vladimir Putin’s army in surprise counter-attack

Ukrainian forces seize territory from Vladimir Putin’s army in surprise counter-attack

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krainian forces have seized back 150 square miles of territory from Vladimir Putin’s army in a surprise counter-attack, military experts said on Thursday.

They had advanced at least 12 miles “deep into Russian-controlled territory” in the north eastern Kharkiv province, according to the Institute for The Study of War.

The Ukrainian troops are believed to have gone on the offensive after Mr Putin’s generals moved forces to the south of the country where they are being hit by a major counter-offensive.

“Ukrainian forces in southeastern Kharkiv Oblast (province) are likely exploiting Russian force reallocation to the Southern Axis to conduct an opportunistic yet highly effective counter-offensive northwest of Izyum,” said the ISW.

“Ukrainian forces advanced at least 20km (12 miles) deep into Russian-controlled territory north of Izyum toward Kupyansk and recaptured about 400 square kilometres (154 square miles) on September 6-7.

“Geolocated combat footage and imagery further confirm that Ukrainian troops advanced into Vysokopillya and Novovoznesenske, both within 5km (three miles) of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast (province) border.”

The Washington-based think tank added that Russian sources, including the Russian Ministry of Defence in Moscow, had “inadvertently” confirmed that Ukrainian forces were making gains in western Kherson province in the Sukhyi Stavok pocket further south.

It added that the Russian-controlled occupation administration in the Kherson area had delayed an “annexation referendum” until November 4, which the Kremlin is expected to use to try to justify seizing this area of Ukraine.

Going into more detail, the ISW said: “Russian milbloggers voiced concern that this Ukrainian counterattack seeks to cut ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Russian rear areas in Kupyansk and Izyum, which would allow Ukrainian troops to isolate the Russian groupings in these areas and retake large swaths of territory.

“These milbloggers used largely panicked and despondent tones, acknowledged significant Ukrainian gains, and claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south may be a distraction from the ongoing actions in Kharkiv Oblast, which they name as the main Ukrainian effort.

“The level of shock and frank discussion of Ukrainian successes by Russian milbloggers speaks to the scale of surprise achieved by Ukrainian forces, which is likely successfully demoralizing Russian forces.”

The think tank, though doubted that the southern counter-offensive was a “feint” for renewed operations in the Kharkiv area.

“Ukrainian forces likely took prudent advantage of a reallocation of Russian troops, equipment, and overall operational focus to launch localized counteroffensives toward critical points in Kharkiv Oblast,” it added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported “good news” from the front near Kharkiv in the east, saying some settlements had been recaptured as both sides reported heavy fighting in the region.

Ukrainian and pro-Russian officials said there was fighting around the town of Balakleiia about 60 km (38 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, with unconfirmed reports of heavy losses to Russian forces.

Ukraine remained guarded about its counter-offensive in the east but presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych, in a video posted on YouTube, said Ukrainian troops had surprised Russian defenders at Balakleiia.

“The Russians are saying that Balakleiia is encircled when in fact (our troops) have gone much further … they’ve cut off the road to Kupiansk,” he said, referring to the main transport hub supplying Russian forces in Izyum to the east.

A pro-Russian official from the region, Rodion Miroshnik, said on Telegram that Balakleiia remained in Russian hands although there was fighting north of the town.

Yuri Podolyak, a Ukrainian often quoted by pro-Russian officials, also said Russian troops were surprised by the Ukrainian advance.

“The enemy had considerable success near Balakleiia with a relatively small force … It would appear that Russian forces slept through this advance and were expecting it elsewhere,” he wrote on Telegram.

“Everything would seem to depend now on the speed with which reserves are brought into the fight … there have been significant losses.”

Asked about the war’s progress at an economic forum in Vladivostock, Mr Putin insisted: “We have not lost anything and will not lose anything.”

Russian forces overnight fired rockets and heavy artillery into towns in several districts, killing seven civilians, wounding others and damaging more than a dozen houses and buildings, local Ukrainian authorities said on Thursday.

“The night was full of alarms and shelling,” Zaporizhzhia’s regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. He said at least 11 houses and other buildings were damaged, but there were no reports of injuries.

In Kharkiv region, five people were hospitalised and in Donetsk seven were killed, said regional officials.

An explosion at a power plant near Odesa in the south, meanwhile, cut electricity supplies to 360,000 people, a spokesperson for the regional administration said.

Meanwhile, Mr Putin was threatening to halt all supplies of energy to Europe if Brussels goes ahead with its proposed price cap on Russian gas, the latest Western step to deprive the Kremlin of funds to finance the war.

The United States, Britain, France and other allies say Moscow is already using energy as a “weapon” to weaken Europe’s opposition to its invasion, with the main conduit for Russian gas into Europe, Nord Stream 1, shut for maintenance.

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