Russia's military humiliated: Ukraine seizes the initiative in the war

In the north-east of the Ukraine, Kyiv manages a surprising advance deep into occupied territory.

Russia's military humiliated: Ukraine seizes the initiative in the war

In the north-east of the Ukraine, Kyiv manages a surprising advance deep into occupied territory. Russia is hastily withdrawing its troops, but does not want to hear about defeat. But the Ukrainian success could turn the tide of war.

It is a great humiliation for Russia. For months, Moscow's troops had been fighting their way forward kilometer by kilometer in the Donbass. And that using large amounts of material and people. The goal was the complete conquest of the Donbass. However, with a surprising counter-offensive in the Kharkiv area, which may one day rank among the most notable in military history, the Ukrainians wrested large parts of the country, which had been conquered with great difficulty, from the enemy within a few days.

The preliminary climax of the Ukrainian assault that began just a few days ago: the capture of the city of Izyum. It actually served Russia as a staging area for a major push deep into Ukrainian territory. From there, Moscow's army could have marched south and taken the rest of the Donetsk region in a pincer movement, encircling strong Ukrainian units. But now the Russian troops themselves were suddenly threatened with encirclement. Moscow decided to withdraw.

The reason for this was the lightning-fast advance of the Ukrainian troops further north. The formations advanced dozens of kilometers into occupied territory and quickly reached the outskirts of the city of Kupyansk. This suddenly threatened the Russian troops in Izyum from the north. At the same time, their supply routes were cut. A string of important roads and railway lines runs through Kupyansk. Even on Russian television, military expert Mikhail Khodaryonok emphasized at the end of the week that "a lot is at stake" with Kupyansk. As a logistics center, the city is "extremely important for the supply of all our troops in the region". On Saturday, Ukraine reported Kupyansk as conquered.

But how could Kyiv succeed in this rapid advance? "Ukrainian forces did not stop after reaching the first town, but deliberately chose to bypass towns to advance deeper behind Russian lines," said Rob Lee, military analyst at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, of the "New York times". The rapid advance apparently left the Russian military command with no choice but to bring their threatened troops to safety in the region.

Weapons from the West are also said to have played an important role in Ukraine's success - including German-supplied "Gepard" tanks for close air defense, reports the Economist magazine, citing Ukrainian intelligence sources. The "cheetahs" would have made Russia shy away from deploying its air force. When they flew missions, they would have suffered losses. HARMS missiles from the USA, which can locate and disable Russian air defense radars, were also important.

The offensive in southern Ukraine probably also had an impact, with which Kyiv apparently managed to tie Moscow's attention and troops: "While Russia was primarily concentrating on the south, Ukraine was planning and launching an operation in the north," he wrote Australian General A. D Mick Ryan on Twitter. Nevertheless, the offensive near Cherson was "not a ruse". "The North and South are mutually supportive offensives as part of a larger Ukrainian operational plan," Ryan said.

How is Moscow reacting to the severe setback in the Kharkiv area? The troops were only withdrawn to "intensify efforts along the Donetsk front," the defense ministry said on Saturday. "In order to achieve the goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbass, it was decided to move Russian troops stationed in the Balakliya and Izyum regions," it said. Just a day earlier, Moscow had announced that it would be strengthening its troops in the Kharkiv region.

"In the past few days, the Russian army has shown us its best side - its backside," sneered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his video address on Sunday night. It was "a good choice for them to flee". There is "no place for the occupiers" in Ukraine. According to him, Ukraine has already regained "2,000 kilometers of territory" from Russian troops this month. It was initially unclear whether the President was talking about square kilometers. The Ukrainian head of state also thanked all soldiers who were involved in the recaptures in the Kharkiv region.

Experts believe that the Ukrainians' Kupyansk offensive could mark a turning point in this war. "Ukraine now has the initiative in this war and the tactical and operational momentum for the winter," commented Australian General A. D Ryan. At the same time, he warned that the war was not over yet. "But maybe the tide is finally turning."

The coup comes at the right time for Ukraine. For Kyiv, it is also about being able to present military successes and thus reason for further arms deliveries to the governments in the West. Military experts also expect that with the onset of winter, the fronts in the Ukraine war could freeze. Kyiv could therefore now have a much better starting position for the coming spring.

But that's not enough for Kyiv: With a view to further attempts at recapture, Ukraine is also pressing Germany to supply battle tanks. "We don't see any obstacles to this," said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba after a meeting with his German colleague Annalena Baerbock in Kyiv. Until Berlin decides to do so, Germany should continue to supply artillery ammunition. "This noticeably increases our offensive options and helps us to liberate new areas," said the chief diplomat. Baerbock reacted reluctantly to the Ukrainian demand. However, she emphasized that ten more of the "Gepard" anti-aircraft tanks, which the Ukrainian side has praised, are to be delivered soon.

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