- Ukraine makes gains in two of the four regions annexed by Russia
- Restoration of the Lyman strategic center improves access to Donbass
- Elon Musk’s proposal to end the war calls for Ukrainian condemnation
- Ukraine says it has withdrawn 31 Russian tanks from the fighting in the south
Svyatohersk/Kyiv (Kyiv) (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces have breached Russian defenses in the south of the country while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, reclaiming more territory in Russia-annexed regions and threatening its forces’ supply lines.
In their biggest breakthrough into the south since the war began, Ukrainian officials and a Russian commander in the region said Ukrainian forces recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday.
The Army’s Southern Operational Command said in a night update that Ukrainian forces in the south destroyed 31 Russian tanks and multiple rocket launchers, without providing details of where the fighting took place.
Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reuters was not immediately able to verify the battlefield accounts.
The southern penetration mirrors recent Ukrainian advances in the east even as Russia has tried to raise the stakes by annexing territory, ordering mobilization, and threatening nuclear retaliation.
Ukraine has made notable progress in two of the four Russian-occupied regions that Moscow annexed last week after what it called referendums – votes that Kyiv and Western governments denounced as illegal and coercive.
In a sign that Ukraine is building momentum on the Eastern Front, Reuters saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles turn in on Monday to reinforce the railway center at Lyman, which was recaptured at the weekend, and as a springboard for pressure on the Donbass region.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainian army had taken back towns in a number of regions, without elaborating.
“New population centers have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting continues in several sectors of the front,” Zelensky said in a video speech.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk – one of two regions that make up the Donbass – said that Russian forces had captured a psychiatric hospital in the town of Svatovo, a target on its way to recapture the main cities of Lyschansk and Severodonetsk.
“There is a large network of underground rooms in the building and they have taken defensive positions,” he told Ukrainian television.
In the south, Ukrainian forces have regained control of the town of Dudchany along the western bank of the Dnipro River, which divides the country, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson region, told Russian state television.
“There are settlements occupied by Ukrainian forces,” Saldo said.
Dodchane is located about 30 km south of where the front stood before Monday’s breakthrough in a sign of the war’s fastest progress in the south. Russian forces there have been dug into heavily reinforced positions along an essentially static front line from the first weeks of the invasion.
While Ukraine has not provided a full report on the developments, military and regional officials have released some details.
Soldiers of Ukraine’s 128th Mountain Offensive Brigade raised the blue and yellow national flag in the village of Mirolyubivka located between the former front and Dnipro, according to a video released by the Ministry of Defense.
Serhiy Khelan, a member of the Kherson Regional Council, listed four other villages that had been retaken or where Ukrainian troops had been photographed.
“This means that our armed forces are moving aggressively along the banks of the Dnipro River near Pereslav,” he said.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the developments.
The southern advance targets the supply lines of up to 25,000 Russian troops on the western bank of the Dnipro. Ukraine has already destroyed the main bridges of the river, forcing the Russian forces to use temporary crossings.
A major advance down the river could cut it completely.
“The fact that we have penetrated the front means that … the Russian army has already lost the ability to attack, and today or tomorrow may lose its ability to defend,” said Kyiv-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov.
Celeste Wallander, a senior Pentagon official, said Ukraine appears to be well on its way to achieving many of its battlefield goals, giving it a “much better defensive position to overcome what might be a lull in hot fighting during the winter.” on Monday.
Just hours after a concert in Moscow’s Red Square on Friday where Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya provinces to be Russian lands forever, Ukraine regained control of Lyman, the main Russian stronghold in the north of Donetsk province.
Billionaire Elon Musk on Monday asked Twitter users to consider a plan to end the war that included proposing UN-supervised elections in the four occupied territories and recognizing Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, as Russian.
The plan was met with immediate condemnation from Ukrainians, including President Zelensky. Read more
Russia’s waning fortunes have shifted moods in state media, as talk show hosts admit setbacks and look for scapegoats.
“For a certain period of time, things will not be easy for us. We should not expect good news at the moment,” said Vladimir Solovyov, the most prominent presenter of state television.
The commander of Russia’s Western Military District, which borders Ukraine, has lost his job, Russian media reported, in the latest in a series of senior officials being fired after defeats.
(This story reverts to Saldo’s spelling correction in paragraph 13)
Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Rami Ayoub and Lincoln Fest. Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Sam Holmes
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
. “Proud zombie lover. Evil pop culture buff. Amateur thinker. Total food practitioner. Tv evangelist.”