Putin has a new Ukraine problem to deal with: The counteroffensive in the Kharkiv area has been more successful than perhaps Ukraine even thought possible, and it is having reverberations across Russia. President Vladimir Putin is even facing open criticism.
The collapse of Russian forces around Kharkiv has been nearly a rout as they’ve been pushed in places as far back as the border between it and Ukraine. A source within Ukrainian intelligence has claimed that the military has taken thousands of prisoners and that Russians were surrendering “en masse,” although that cannot be confirmed yet.
Oleksandr Verbytsky, 66, told CNN inside of Kupiansk, “I didn’t even expect it would be so fast,” he said of the speed of Russia’s pell-mell retreat. “I went to the store, and when I came back, everybody was running away. The Russians drove through the cemetery to get away. Can you imagine?”
The scene inside of Izium was stark. Numerous tanks, armored vehicles, supplies, and ammunition either destroyed or simply abandoned spoke volumes about how badly the Russians fared inside the town. While the city has been freed, Russian soldiers still have to be found and rooted out.
“Enemy losses were 86 tanks and 158 armored fighting vehicles, 106 artillery systems, 159 vehicles, and 46 units of other equipment,” the Ukrainian General Staff said. That is the equivalent of nearly three Russian tank battalions inside an armored regiment (31 tanks each) and nearly the number of tanks in nine Russian battalion tactical groups
Putin Getting Pushback From Within for Ukraine Problems
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent the past seven months trying to keep the cost of his invasion of Ukraine a secret from the Russian people. From the disastrous attempts to take Kyiv and Kharkiv in the opening hours and days of the invasion, to the sinking of the Moskva, and since the retreat in the east where they said they were “regrouping,” the people have been led astray.
The official casualty count still stands at 1,351 dead, a number that hasn’t changed since early March. Moscow has refused to take back the thousands of Russian dead that Ukraine offered since they’d have to acknowledge the extent of the cost.
The protest inside of Russia against Putin is growing by the day. Nearly 50 Russian lawmakers have signed a petition demanding that Putin resign. “We, the municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of its president Vladimir Putin are detrimental to Russia’s and its citizens’ future. We demand Vladimir Putin’s resignation from the post of the President of the Russian Federation,” the petition read.
“We decided to make our appeal so short that there would be less reason to find any fault with it from the authorities and so that as many municipal deputies as possible would sign the petition,” Ksenia Thorstrom, a municipal deputy of the Semenovsky District in Saint Petersburg said to CNN.
Strategy For The Ukraine Offensive Began Months Ago:
With help from the United States, the Ukrainians began planning this operation several months ago, according to American officials. They had several intensive meetings where they decided together what was the best course of action against the Russian invasion.
While the offensive in the south has not made the significant gains that they’ve had in the east, it was, however, a major factor in how successful they’ve been in the east. As I wrote yesterday, the deception part of the plan is a hallmark of the Special Forces, and the American influence on this contributed in a large way.
The UK, US, and Ukrainians war-gamed the proposed plan, and all agreed it would work, but no one knew how successful it would quickly turn out to be. Now the Ukrainians are saying, and rightfully so, if the West had given them the weapons and supplies that they asked for at the outset of the invasion, they could have repelled Russia sooner and more thoroughly.
Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.