- Ukraine wins two of the four regions annexed by Russia
- Restoring Lyman’s strategic center improves access to Donbass
- Elon Musk’s proposal to end the war draws Ukrainian condemnation
- Ukraine claims to have disabled 31 Russian tanks in the south
SVIATOHIRSK/KYIV, OCT. 4 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces have breached Russian defenses in the south of the country and expanded their rapid offensive in the east, recapturing more territory in areas annexed by Russia and threatening supply lines for its troops.
Ukrainian forces on Monday recaptured several villages along the strategic Dnipro River, making the biggest advance in the south since the war began, Ukrainian officials and the Russian-backed leader in the region said.
Ukrainian forces in the south had destroyed 31 Russian tanks and several rocket launchers, the military’s Southern Operations Command said in an overnight update, without giving details of where the fighting took place.
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Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.
While Russia has tried to raise the stakes through land annexation, mobilization and the threat of nuclear retaliation, the southern advance mirrors recent Ukrainian developments in the east.
Ukraine made significant gains in two of the four Russian-occupied regions in Moscow last week – after so-called referendums – votes condemned by Kiev and Western governments as illegal and forced.
In a sign that Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, Reuters saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles on Monday reinforcing the railway hub of Lyman, recaptured over the weekend, and a staging post for entry into the Donbass region.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine’s military had seized back towns in several regions without giving any details.
“New population centers have been liberated in many regions. Heavy fighting is going on in many sections of the front,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, one of the two regions that make up Donbass, said Russian forces had captured a psychiatric hospital in the city of Svadovo, a target for recapturing the main cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk.
“The building has a network of underground rooms and they have taken up defensive positions,” he told Ukrainian television.
In the south, Ukrainian troops recaptured the city of Datsany on the west bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, Vladimir Zalto, head of Russia’s installation in the occupied territories of Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.
“There are settlements occupied by Ukrainian forces,” Salto said.
Datsani is about 30 km (20 mi) south of where the front stood before Monday’s advance, marking the battle’s rapid advance in the south. From the opening weeks of the invasion, Russian forces were mainly dug in in heavily fortified positions along a fixed front line.
Although Ukraine has yet to give a full account of the developments, military and regional officials released some details.
Soldiers from Ukraine’s 128th Mountain Assault Regiment raise the blue and yellow national flag in Myrolivka, a village between the former frontline and Dnipro, according to a video released by the Defense Ministry.
Serhiy Khlan, a member of the Kherson regional council, listed four villages that were either recaptured or photographed by Ukrainian troops.
“Our armed forces are moving powerfully along the banks of the Dnipro near Perislav,” he said.
Reuters could not independently verify the developments.
The southern advance targeted supply lines for 25,000 Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnieper. Ukraine has already destroyed key bridges on the river, forcing Russian forces to use temporary crossings.
A considerable advance in the river would cut them off entirely.
“The fact that we have broken the front means … the Russian army has already lost its ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it will lose its ability to defend,” said Ole Zhdanov, a military analyst in Kyiv.
Ukraine appears to be on track to achieve many of its battlefield objectives, giving it “a better defensive position that can mitigate the hot fighting in the winter,” said Celeste Wallander, a senior Pentagon official. on Monday.
Hours after the concert in Moscow’s Red Square on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia provinces to be Russian territory forever, and Ukraine recaptured the Russian stronghold of Lyman in the north of Donetsk province.
Billionaire Elon Musk asked Twitter users on Monday to weigh in on his plan to end the war, which includes proposing UN-supervised elections in the four occupied territories and recognizing Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, as Russian.
The plan drew immediate condemnation from Ukrainians, including President Zelensky. read more
Russia’s disastrous fortunes have led to a mood shift in state media, where talk show hosts are admitting setbacks and looking for scapegoats.
“For a certain period of time, things will not be easy for us. We should not expect good news now,” said Vladimir Solovyov, a prominent anchor on state television.
The commander of Russia’s Western Military District, which borders Ukraine, has lost his job, Russian media reported on Monday, the latest in a string of top officials fired after debacle.
(This story is revised to correct the spelling of Zaldo in paragraph 13)
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Report by Reuters Bureau; By Rami Ayyub and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Sam Holmes
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.