Ukraine accused the Russian military of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a rapid weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops that forced Russia to abandon its main bastion in the Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian officials said targets of the retaliatory attacks included water facilities and a thermal power station in Kharkiv, causing widespread blackouts.
“No military facilities [among the targets], the goal is to deprive people of light and heat,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.
A total blackout in the Kharkiv & Donetsk regions, a partial one in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk & Sumy regions. RF terrorists remain terrorists & attack critical infrastructure. No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat. #RussiaIsATerroristState
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 11, 2022
He has described Ukraine’s offensive in the northeast as a potential breakthrough in the six-month-old war, and said the winter could see further territorial gains if Kyiv received more powerful weapons.
In the worst defeat for Moscow’s forces since they were repelled from the outskirts of the capital Kyiv in March, thousands of Russian soldiers left behind ammunition and equipment as they fled the city of Izium, which they had used as a logistics hub.
Ukraine’s chief commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said the armed forces had regained control of more than 3,000 square km (1,158 square miles) since the start of this month.
Ukraine’s gains are important politically for President Zelenskyy as he seeks to keep Europe united behind Ukraine – supplying weapons and money – even as an energy crisis looms this winter following cuts in Russian gas supplies to European customers.
Ukrainians strike back
Ukraine’s General Staff reported on Monday defence forces had dislodged the enemy from more than 20 settlements in the past day. Near the Russian border, in the village of Kozacha Lopan, north of Kharkiv, Ukrainian soldiers and local officials were greeted by residents with hugs and handshakes.
Ukrainian liberators are greeted on their land 🇺🇦
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) September 12, 2022
“Kozacha is and will be Ukraine,” district Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko said on a video he posted on Facebook on Sunday. “No ‘Russian World’ whatsoever. See for yourselves where the ‘Russian World’ rags are lying around. Glory to Ukraine, glory to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
NEW: #Ukraine has inflicted a major operational defeat on #Russia, recapturing almost all of #Kharkiv Oblast in a rapid counter-offensive. Ukraine has turned the tide in its favor, but the current counter-offensive will not end the war. /1
Our latest: https://t.co/zAXz3Q6urT pic.twitter.com/ZzGRXIvIAG
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) September 12, 2022
Moscow’s almost total silence on the defeat – or any explanation for what had taken place in northeastern Ukraine – provoked significant anger among some pro-war commentators and Russian nationalists on social media. Some called on Sunday for President Vladimir Putin to make immediate changes to ensure ultimate victory in the war.
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