Over the weekend, Ukraine continued its fierce counteroffensive on the eastern front, which saw Russian lines crumble in Kharkiv. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have retaken over 3,000 square km since the start of September, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny announced on September 11, Suspline News reported.
Amongst the 40 settlements liberated in the last few days is the town of Izyum, a strategically important railway hub in Kharkiv Oblast, which Russian forces captured in the spring. As such, Russian troops have retreated almost entirely out of the Kharkiv region, Hromadske reported. In fact, Ukraine has managed to retake more territory in the last five days than Russia has been able to occupy since April, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted.
“As a result of the successful counter-offensive of our troops in the Kharkiv direction, the Russian troops frantically leave their positions and flee with the loot deep into the temporarily occupied territories or into the territory of the Russian Federation,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine published on Facebook.
Ukraine’s southern counter-offensive in the Kherson region also saw Russian troops abandoning several settlements over the weekend, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Ukraine broke through Russia’s line of defence in Kherson on August 29, forcing Moscow to refocus on the south and leaving the Kharkiv front vulnerable. Ukraine then used the opportunity to begin the eastern counter-offensive, catching Russia off guard.
The victories are a huge morale boost for Ukraine as the war has dragged into its 200th day on September 11. Certainly Ukraine’s successes are draining the spirits of Russian troops even further. Indeed, due to the success of the counter-offensive, the Kremlin has postponed the illegal annexation referenda in the occupied territories of Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Meduza reported. Citing sources close to the Kremlin, Meduza claims that Kremlin-connected political technologists who worked in the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions have already been recalled to Russia.
Nevertheless, intense fighting is continuing in the Izyum and Donbas regions and Russian forces targeted infrastructure facilities in the East, causing blackouts in parts of Kharkiv Oblast, Poltava Oblast and Sumy Oblast, Ukrainian Pravda reported. This includes a strike on Ukraine’s second-largest thermal power plant (TPP) in Kharkiv, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said, according to the Kyiv Independent.
The Main Department of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence also expressed concern that Moscow will launch missile strikes on the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) and the nearby town of Energodar in the near future and “plan to blame Ukraine for this”.
Moreover, Russia continues to launch attacks on positions across Ukraine, launching 16 missile attacks and three air strikes by 6pm on September 11, impacting 15 settlements.
“A further threat of air and missile strikes remains on the entire territory of Ukraine,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces stated.