According to Ukrainian authorities, Western assessments, and battlefield images, Ukrainian troops have won the most important combat advances since they ousted Russia from the region surrounding Kyiv in April by regaining land in the northeast.
Since the beginning of the offensive, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine reported to the people of Ukraine in an address that he gave overnight on Thursday that the Ukrainian military had taken control of a large number of Russian-occupied villages and large chunks of territory across the country.
On Friday, it looked that the Ukrainian military was making quick progress in isolating the city of Izium, which serves as an essential logistics base for Russian military operations.
It was not possible for an outside party to determine the precise locations of Ukrainian soldiers operating in the region near Izium. However, information from satellites, independent military analysts, as well as images and videos taken by Ukrainian troops, suggested that they had made rapid progress toward Kupiansk, which is another logistics base located just to the north of Izium.
It would seem that the Russian troops were unprepared for the fresh onslaught that was launched in the north. On Friday, the country’s Ministry of Defense said through Telegram that it was repositioning soldiers to strengthen security in the Kharkiv area. However, the ministry did not provide any details on the number of troops or their exact locations.
Kremlin-friendly military bloggers, sometimes known as pro-war cheerleaders who normally push for more aggressive action, were caught off guard by Ukraine’s gains in the northeast.
“We need to be honest, the Ukrainian command has outplayed us here.” He warned that “this would be the most devastating battle setback” for Moscow if the Russian troops were unable to “halt the Ukrainian advance” in the coming days.
Officials from Ukraine and the West warned that the offensive operations were still in their early stages, that the situation was volatile, and that the gains were not even close to being secure. Because the government in Kyiv is enforcing a media blackout and restricting journalists’ access to the front lines, not all of the claims of advances by Ukraine could be independently verified. Furthermore, a significant amount of the state of the fighting in both the east and the south of Ukraine is shrouded in uncertainty.
For a number of months, the authorities of Ukraine have been quite vocal about their plan to initiate a counteroffensive in the southern region, namely around the city of Kherson. They then continued to fire accurate rockets into Russian supply lines, ammo dumps, and command centres located in the vicinity, all while amassing soldiers and coordinating clandestine operations on military locations and Russian collaborators located well behind enemy lines.
Before this week, though, they didn’t say much of anything at all about the northeast.
A window was provided into the Ukrainian campaign via the accounts of witnesses, the local Ukrainian government, Russian surrogate officials, geolocated video on social media, and satellite imagery.
On Thursday, Ukrainian officials announced that their troops had successfully pushed through the town of Balakliya, which is located less than 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the city of Izium. Izium is located close to the Donbas, which is a contested region in eastern Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has vowed to seize. A video was published by President Zelensky showing troops hoisting the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine over the town’s administration building. Other authorities also shared films, some of which were not immediately confirmed, showing residents coming out to meet the military.
Photos published by Ukrainian forces on Friday seem to have been taken in the neighbourhood of Kupiansk, which has functioned as the capital of the Russian occupation in the area since it was established. Vitaly Ganchev, who had been placed as the head of the local government by the Kremlin, ordered the city’s female residents and children to leave as Ukrainian soldiers neared.