As their quick counteroffensive continues, Ukrainian fighters have taken back more than 20 towns and villages in eastern Ukraine in the last 24 hours alone, according to Kiev.
“The liberation of localities under Russian occupation in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions continues,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a situation report.
It also stated that the most recent Russian troop retreat was from the towns of Velykyi Burluk and Dvorichna in the Kharkiv area.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the removal of its forces from the Kharkiv region over the weekend in response to Ukrainian counteroffensive pressure, stating it was a part of a strategic regrouping.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, had already declared the recapture of the strategically significant city of Izyum, and later, videos showed Ukrainian soldiers hoisting the national flag there.
The general staff reports that although separatist-aligned militias are still active in the area, Russian troops have also left the Luhansk region’s town of Svatove.
“In the face of Ukrainian advances, Russia has likely ordered the withdrawal of its troops from the entirety of occupied Kharkiv Oblast west of the Oskil River,” British intelligence said in an update.
“Isolated pockets of resistance remain in this sector, but since Wednesday, Ukraine has recaptured territory at least twice the size of Greater London,” it continued.
Even if the Ukrainian counteroffensive appeared to be successful, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attempted to strengthen Moscow’s stance on Monday.
According to the Interfax news agency, Peskov emphasized that Russia will continue its special military operation until its objectives were achieved.
When journalists questioned the Kremlin spokesperson about whether Russian President Vladimir Putin still had faith in the country’s military leadership, the official response was evasive.
Putin’s response, when notified that Russian forces were leaving the Kharkiv region, was to only say that the Russian president would be kept up to date on any military developments.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev urged Kiev to agree to Moscow’s present terms for talks or else Russia would only accept Ukraine’s complete capitulation in the future.
The demands that will be made in the future—namely, the complete submission of the Kiev administration to Russian demands—are nothing like the current ultimatums, according to Medvedev—are child’s play.
When Ukraine attempted to reclaim the Crimean peninsula that Russia had seized, Medvedev, who was once seen as a potential agent for change in Russia but has since shown to be one of the invasion’s most fervent backers, threatened it with Judgement Day.
Zelensky stated in a CNN interview on Sunday that he was not interested in dealing with Russia at this time because he perceived no readiness for fruitful negotiations among the Moscow leadership, which may have prompted the former president to make his threats.
Zelensky referred to Moscow’s strategies as Russian cannibalism and claimed that if Ukraine agreed to the Russian demands before peace talks could begin, it would be devoured piece by piece.
Zelensky stated that Kiev’s intention was to retake all of the Ukrainian lands that Russian forces had taken.
The Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine must be ceded, Crimea must be recognized as Russian territory, Ukraine must be demilitarized, and Ukraine must commit to never joining NATO in the future.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi has meantime recommended for the establishment of a security perimeter around the troubled Zaporizhzhya nuclear reactor in southern Ukraine.
Grossi told journalists that his suggestion did not fully demilitarize the area because we must keep things simple, but he urged all parties in the war to stop firing the factory and the surrounding area.
He said that there was still no agreement on the planned zone’s radius or the function of the IAEA personnel now based at the Zaporizhzhya plant.
The last functioning reactor at the plant has officially been shut down, however the IAEA has stated that there is still a risk of a nuclear accident due to shelling.
He emphasized that even though the final reactor had been turned down, the site’s atomic material would still need to be cooled.
Zelensky used his daily video message to urge the country’s partners to speed up the delivery of air defense systems to Ukraine after Russian missile attacks at the weekend cut down power supplies in significant portions of the country, adding that “together we can conquer Russian terror.”
Zelensky claimed that Russian bombardment on a power plant close to Kharkiv on Sunday night left a lot of eastern Ukraine without electricity as “revenge” for the Ukrainian military’s stunning breakthrough in the Kharkiv region over the previous few days.