December 2, 2022

As Ukrainian forces advanced in the south, Russia stepped onto a second front

  • There was no official Ukrainian confirmation of progress in the south
  • Russian military bloggers said troops were dozens of kilometers away
  • Ukraine was buoyed by its weekend capture of Lyman in the east

KYIV, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces reportedly recaptured towns on the west bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine on Monday, forcing them to cede territory on a second major front just days after Moscow claimed it had annexed it. .

The extent of the Ukrainian advance has not been confirmed, with Kiev maintaining anything but complete silence on the situation in the region. But Russian military bloggers described Ukrainian tank advances along dozens of kilometers of terrain along the river’s banks.

In a rare comment by a Ukrainian official on the situation, Anton Zerashchenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry, released a video of a Ukrainian soldier waving a flag at Zolota Balka, down from the former front line.

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Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Institute for Foreign Policy Research, quoted Russian bloggers as saying their forces had retreated to Datsani, 40 km (25 miles) up the river from where they had resisted Ukrainian troops a day earlier.

“When these many Russian channels are sounding the alarm, it means they are in trouble,” he wrote on Twitter.

A Ukrainian advance across the Dnipro River would trap thousands of Russian troops far away, cut off from all supplies. The river is so wide that Ukraine has already destroyed large crossings.

The first reports describing a rapid Ukrainian advance in the south of the country since the start of the war, and came a day after Ukraine defeated Russian troops in Lyman, a major fortress on the opposite front in the east.

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The advances in the east and south – the biggest in the war so far – all came as President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukraine only on Friday, accompanied by a celebratory concert at the Kremlin walls.

They come amid reports of chaos at a mobilization two weeks ago by Putin that saw tens of thousands of Russian men suddenly drafted into the army and tens of thousands fleeing abroad.

Mikhail Dektyarev, the governor of the Khabarovsk region in Russia’s far east, said half of the men drafted there were found unfit for duty and sent home. He dismissed the military commissar of the region.

Lyman’s fall in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province, hours after Putin announced his annexation, opens the way for Ukrainian forces to push deep into Russian-held territory and cut off remaining Russian supply lines.

“Thanks to the successful operation at Lyman, we are moving towards a second north-south route … which means the second supply route will be blocked,” said Reserve Col. Viktor Kevliuk at Ukraine’s Defense Strategies think tank.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Lyman’s capture demonstrated Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian forces and showed the impact Ukraine’s deployment of advanced Western weapons was having on the conflict.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said the success of the country’s players was not limited to Lyman.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington was “very encouraged” by the Ukrainian gains.

The Russian parliament will consider bills on Monday to absorb four Ukrainian regions, the speaker of the lower house of parliament said. These are Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south.

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Written by Peter Graff Editing by Gareth Jones

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