Ukraine Captures Railhead At Kupiansk As Russia’s Defenses Crumble – The counteroffensive by Ukrainian military forces have broken into lightly to non-defended areas as they race to cut off Russian troops from their main supply route in the Kharkiv region.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s troops posed for pictures in front of the railway hub in the strategic town of Kupiansk as the lightning gains could turn into a rout. A reporter from Reuters was inside the town with Ukrainian troops and stated that Ukrainian police were already patrolling the streets and soldiers were picking up heaps of ammunition and supplies that fleeing Russian troops dropped in their haste to leave.
With the brilliantly conceived offensive in the Kharkiv region after the much-ballyhooed push to retake Kherson in the south, Russia had shifted 12 battalions from the east to the south, and its forces and commanders were caught flat-footed.
The Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov posted pictures from local social media that showed Ukrainian troops inside the town of Kupiansk.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly video address to the nation, said the military had recaptured more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region.
“Actions to check and secure the territory continue,” he said. “We are gradually taking control of new settlements — everywhere, we are returning the Ukrainian flag and protection for all our people.”
In its daily intelligence assessment on Saturday, the UK’s Defense Ministry said, “The sector was only lightly held, and Ukrainian units have captured or surrounded several towns.”
“A Russian force around Izium is likely increasingly isolated. Ukrainian units are now threatening the town of Kupiansk; its capture would be a significant blow to Russia because it sits on supply routes to the Donbas front line,” the ministry added.
Ukraine Pushes Forward, Russia Trying to Reinforce Troops in the Kharkiv Region:
As the defenses were weakened and the front in the region appeared close to collapse, the Russian Defense Ministry attempted to race reinforcements to stem the tide. Kupiansk, as noted above, is the leading Russian supply route for troops and supplies in the northeast.
Izium is where the attacks on the Donbas were based from. The offensive attempts to encircle and isolate the Russian troops in Izium, where the main logistical base in the Donbas is located. If Russia loses these two areas, it will be a huge setback.
Russian state-run news media broadcasted footage of military vehicles traveling along roads that it said were in the Kharkiv region, decorated with the painted letter “Z,” the symbol of Moscow’s invasion.
Morale among Russian troops has been low since the earliest weeks of the invasion. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that more and more Russian troops are deserting. They said that they’d captured at least 15 troops who ditched their uniforms for civilian clothes attempting to flee back to Russia.
“We are moving forward,” General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, posted to Facebook on Friday afternoon. “We clearly know what we are fighting for, and we will definitely win.”
The Russian proxy head of the city administration, Vitaly Ganchev, admitted that Kyiv had already won a “substantial victory.”
Appearing on state television, Ganchev said, “The very fact of a breach of our defenses is already a substantial victory for the Ukrainian armed forces.”
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posted in its daily update that its forces have taken “more than 1,000 square kilometers” (386 square miles) from Russian troops since the counteroffensive began earlier this week.
It said that “in some areas, units of the Defense Forces have penetrated the enemy’s defenses to a depth of 50 kilometers,” however, they didn’t provide any details.
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.