Ukraine launches counterattack in Kharkiv after Russians redeployed south

Ukrainian troopers gathered in Kyiv for the funeral of Oleh Kutsyn, Karpatska Sich Battalion commander.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine seems to have shocked Russia this week with a sequence of counterattacks in the northeast of the nation with navy strategists saying Kyiv is prone to have taken benefit of a latest redeployment of Russian troops to defend in opposition to a counteroffensive in the south.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed the counterattack came about Wednesday, saying in his nightly deal with that “we have good news from Kharkiv region” as he introduced that a number of settlements had been retaken with out giving additional particulars.

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“Now is not the time to name the towns where the Ukrainian flag is returning,” he mentioned, presumably as Ukraine goals to keep up a strategic navy benefit. He added that “each success of our military in one direction or another changes the general situation along the entire front in favor of Ukraine.”

“The more difficult it is for the occupiers, the more losses they have, the better the positions of our defenders in Donbas will be, the more reliable the defense of Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv, the cities of Dnipropetrovsk region will be, the sooner we will be able to liberate [the] Azov coastline and the entire south,” Zelenskyy mentioned.

Both Ukrainian and Russian sources have been commenting on the counterattacks over the previous couple of days. Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to Zelenskyy, tweeted Tuesday that “counter-offensive actions by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are taking place not only in the south of Ukraine, but also in the east and southeast.”

Meanwhile, pro-Russian navy blogger Danil Bezsonov had been posting in latest days about locals in Kharkiv reporting an accumulation of Ukrainian manpower and gear in the area and on Tuesday introduced an assault in town of Balakliya, between Kharkiv and Izyum. On Thursday, he famous on Telegram, nonetheless, that Balakliya “is not taken, the enemy is trying to enter from different sides.”

Throughout the summer season Ukraine had mentioned it could launch a counteroffensive to retake Kherson and occupied land in the south however had made no point out of the occupied northeast and japanese Donbas.

Russia’s redeployment

Analysts on the Institute for the Study of War consider that Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv area are doubtless exploiting the reallocation of Russian forces to the southern entrance “to conduct an opportunistic yet highly effective counteroffensive northwest of Izyum.” 

The ISW believed that Ukraine’s “tactical surprise” had enabled its forces to advance at the very least 12 miles into Russian-held territory in the japanese a part of the Kharkiv area on Wednesday, recapturing roughly 400 sq. kilometers of floor.

“Russian sources claimed that Russian troops began deploying reinforcements to the area to defend against Ukrainian advances” however mentioned the Russian grouping in this space “was likely understrength due to previous Russian deployments to support ongoing efforts to capture the remainder of Donetsk Oblast and support the southern axis.”

Ukrainian forces doubtless captured Verbivka, they famous, and there have been reviews that close by Volokhiv Yar had additionally been recaptured. CNBC was unable to confirm the reviews.

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The ISW famous that Russian navy bloggers had voiced concern that the Ukrainian counterattack was seeking to minimize Russian forces’ floor strains of communication “which would allow Ukrainian troops to isolate the Russian groupings in these areas and retake large swaths of territory.”

“The level of shock and frank discussion of Ukrainian successes by Russian milbloggers speaks to the scale of surprise achieved by Ukrainian forces, which is likely successfully demoralizing Russian forces,” the ISW famous.

Indeed, such bloggers had famous that, fairly than Kherson being Ukraine’s principal counteroffensive focus, it may properly be Kharkiv.

Dilemma for Russia

Britain’s Ministry of Defense additionally confirmed reviews relating to the counterattacks, saying Wednesday that “over the last 24 hours, heavy fighting has taken place on three fronts: in the north, near Kharkiv; in the east in the Donbas; and in the south in Kherson Oblast.”

The assaults posed a dilemma for Russia’s commanders in phrases of the place they wanted to deploy troops, with Ukraine prone to look to take advantage of that confusion.

“Russia’s planned main effort is probably an advance on Bakhmut in the Donbas, but commanders face a dilemma of whether to deploy operational reserves to support this offensive, or to defend against continued Ukrainian advances in the south,” the ministry added in its intelligence replace.

“Multiple concurrent threats spread across 500km will test Russia’s ability to coordinate operational design and reallocate resources across multiple groupings of forces. Earlier in the war, Russia’s failure to do this was one of the underlying reasons for the military’s poor performance,” it mentioned.

Russian airstrikes keep hitting Kharkiv in Ukraine

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive to retake Kherson final week however has since change into tight-lipped about its progress in a bid, presumably, to keep up a tactical and strategic benefit on the battlefield.

Chris Miller, a visiting fellow on the American Enterprise Institute, the place he focuses on Russian international coverage, politics and economics, informed CNBC on Wednesday that Ukraine’s counterattacks on three fronts come because it desires to make sure “that Russia doesn’t feel any sort of security over the territory that it controls.”

“A month ago, the debate was whether Russia would formally annex the Ukrainian territory that it controls. Now that looks a lot less likely simply because its control of the territories are a lot weaker than anyone, including Russia, thought,” he mentioned.

Nonetheless, Miller warned in opposition to wild expectations in the case of Ukraine’s counterattacks, noting the warfare is prone to be an extended and grinding one, in any case.

“We shouldn’t expect that [the counteroffensive] will be that easy … The track record of this war thus far is that we’ve seen numerous occasions [in which] Russia advanced and then retreat, and dig in in new areas. So I think we should go forward with the assumption that that’s probably going to happen this time, too.”

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