‘Situation more difficult by the hour’: Ukrainian forces break through to Russian border. Live updates.
John Bacon, USA TODAY – September 12, 2022
The Ukraine military’s stunning offensive gained momentum Monday, reclaiming several more northeastern villages and forcing the retreat of overwhelmed Russian troops from the region.
A Russian-installed official in the Kharkiv region said Ukrainian forces outnumbered Russian troops by 8-to-1 and had broken through to the Russian border. Vitaly Ganchev told the state-owned Rossiya-24 television channel on Monday “the situation is becoming more difficult by the hour.”
Kyiv’s sudden surge comes after months of little movement, save Russia’s small gains in the Donbas region. The encouraging counteroffensive has lifted morale and prompted criticism within Russia of President Vladimir Putin’s so-called “special military operation.”
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked 200 days since the war began by lauding the efforts of his military.
“The world is impressed. The enemy is panicking,” Zelenskyy said. “Ukraine is proud of you, believes in you, prays for you, and is waiting for you.”
►The Ukrainian military said its troops had freed more than 20 settlements in 24 hours – the British Defense Ministry said Kyiv’s forces have captured territory at least the size of greater London in recent days.
►The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Monday that Ukraine and Russia appeared interested in creating a security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and that talks were underway.
Dissent against Russian ‘impossible’ war strategy seeps into media
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader of the Russian region of Chechnya, and Boris Nadezhdin, a former parliament member, were among prominent Russians to publicly criticize the war strategy.
“Mistakes were made,” Kadyrov said in a Telegram post. He said that if a change in strategy was not made soon “I will be forced to turn to the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, the leadership of the country to explain to them the situation that is really happening on the ground.”
Nadezhdin told NTV that Putin aides who convinced the president the military would be fast and effective got it wrong.
“We’re now at the point where we have to understand that it’s absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using these resources and colonial war methods,” Nadezhdin said.
Liberated city of Izyum in ruins
Ukraine forces, reclaiming the city of Izyum in Kharkiv province, said more than 1,000 residents had been killed by Russian shelling. About 80% of the infrastructure had been destroyed in the city that was home to 45,000 residents before the war began. Less than 10,000 remain, City Council member Maxim Strelnikov said.
“As throughout the occupied territory, the Russians committed war crimes and tried to cover them up.
Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine ‘routing’ Russian forces
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War issued an assessment Monday saying the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv was “routing Russian forces and collapsing Russia’s northern Donbas axis.” Russian forces are not conducting a controlled withdrawal but rather “hurriedly fleeing” southeastern Kharkiv Oblast to escape encirclement around Izyum.
“Ukrainian forces have penetrated Russian lines to a depth of up to (45 miles) in some places and captured over 1,150 square miles of territory in the past five days since Sept. 6 – more territory than Russian forces have captured in all their operations since April,” the assessment says.
Ukraine claims to make gains in Donbas
Russia military officials have repeatedly said that forces have been moved away from Kharkiv and other cities to support its effort to control the eastern, industrial Donbas region that it claims has been its goal all along. But now Ukrainian officials say they are making gains in the two Donbas provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk as well. Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk military administration, said in a Telegram post that the city of Lyman in Donetsk had been liberated by Ukrainian forces and that now “it is our turn.”
“I want to let locals know that liberation is close,” he said. “If you hear sounds of combat, remain in shelters. We cannot name settlements but locals will understand.”
Russian leader of Crimea threatens pro-Ukrainian protesters
Sergey Aksenov, Russia-appointed leader of occupied Crimea, said organizers and participants in pro-Ukraine rallies will “be held accountable.” He complained that videos from public events in Crimea show residents chanting pro-Ukrainian slogans and singing nationalist songs. That could lead to prosecution and dismissal from jobs, he said in Telegram post. He suggested they leave Crimea voluntarily.
“It would be rational and logical for those who support the Ukrainian regime to leave for the country they love so much,” he wrote.
Russian official: ‘Total surrender’ of Ukraine forces might be demanded
A former president and prime minister of Russia on Monday dismissed reports of Ukrainian gains and warned the Kremlin might ultimately demand “total surrender” of the Kyiv regime. Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of his nation’s Security Council, alluded to Zelenskyy’s refusal to conduct a dialogue “with those who put forward ultimatums.”
“The current ‘ultimatums’ are a warm-up for kids, a preview of demands to be made in the future,” Medvedev said. “He (Zelenskyy) knows them: the total surrender of the Kiev regime on Russia’s terms.”
Natural gas prices in Europe reach 7-week low
European natural gas prices fell to their lowest level in seven weeks on Monday. ICE Dutch TTF gas futures for October, the European benchmark, were down 7.3% to about about $195 per megawatt hour. That’s down more than 40% from the all-time high of around $350 less than three weeks ago.
Analysts credited Europe’s efforts to stock up ahead of winter, proposed caps on Russian gas prices and a more positive outlook on the war in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman vague on Putin’s confidence in military
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked whether the country’s military leadership continues to enjoy Putin’s supports, said only that “the special military operation continues and will continue until all the goals that were initially set are achieved.” Peskov declined to comment on reports that the commander of the Western Military District had been fired, saying that was an issue for Russia’s Defense Ministry.
Russian Defense Ministry announced Sunday that the “regrouping” of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region to step up efforts in the Donetsk.