March 21, 2023



Russian forces retreat amid Ukrainian counteroffensive

6 min read

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian troops on Sunday efficiently pressed their swift counteroffensive within the northeastern a part of the nation, at the same time as a nuclear energy plant within the Russia-occupied south utterly shut down in a bid to forestall a radiation catastrophe as combating raged close by.

Kyiv’s motion to reclaim Russia-occupied areas within the Kharkiv area compelled Moscow to withdraw its troops to forestall them from being surrounded, abandoning vital numbers of weapons and munitions in a hasty retreat because the conflict marked its two hundredth day on Sunday.

A jubilant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mocked the Russians in a video tackle Saturday evening, saying “the Russian military in today is demonstrating one of the best that it might probably do — exhibiting its again.”

He posted a video of Ukrainian troopers hoisting the nationwide flag over Chkalovske, one other city reclaimed within the counteroffensive.

Yuriy Kochevenko, of the ninety fifth brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, tweeted a video from what gave the impression to be town middle of Izyum. The town was thought-about an vital command and provide hub for Russia’s northern entrance.

“Every thing round is destroyed, however we are going to restore all the pieces. Izyum was, is, and will probably be Ukraine,” Kochevenko stated in his video, exhibiting the empty central sq. and destroyed buildings.

Whereas most consideration was targeted on the counteroffensive, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator stated the Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant, Europe’s largest, was reconnected to Ukraine’s electrical energy grid, permitting engineers to close down its final operational reactor to safeguard the plant amid the combating.

The plant, one of many 10 greatest atomic energy stations on the earth, has been occupied by Russian forces for the reason that early days of the conflict. Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for shelling round it.

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Since a Sept. 5 hearth brought on by shelling knocked the plant off transmission strains, the reactor was powering essential security tools in so-called “island mode” — an unreliable regime that left the plant more and more weak to a possible nuclear accident.

The Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company, the U.N. nuclear watchdog that has two specialists on the plant, welcomed the restoration of exterior energy. However the company’s director-general, Rafael Grossi, stated he stays “gravely involved in regards to the scenario on the plant, which stays in peril so long as any shelling continues.”

He stated talks have begun on establishing a security and safety zone across the plant.

In a name Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron urged the withdrawal of Russian troops and weaponry from the plant according to IAEA suggestions.

In combating, Ukraine’s army chief, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyy, stated its forces had recaptured about 3,000 sq. kilometers (1,160 sq. miles) for the reason that counteroffensive started in early September. He stated Ukrainian troops are solely 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) from the border with Russia.

Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov stated Ukrainian troops have reclaimed management of greater than 40 settlements within the area, noting he couldn’t give a exact quantity as a result of the operation remains to be unfolding.

Protection Minister Anna Malyar stated Ukrainian forces are firing shells containing propaganda into areas the place they search to advance.

”One of many methods of informational work with the enemy in areas the place there isn’t a Web is launching propaganda shells,” she wrote on Fb. “Earlier than shifting ahead, our defenders say hiya to the Russian invaders and provides them the final alternative to give up. In any other case, solely demise awaits them on Ukrainian soil.”

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The Ukrainian Normal Employees stated Russian forces had additionally left a number of settlements within the Kherson area as Ukrainian forces pressed the counteroffensive. It didn’t establish the cities.

An official with the Russian-backed administration within the metropolis of Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, stated on social media that town was protected and requested everybody to remain calm.

The Russian pullback marked the most important battlefield success for Ukrainian forces since they thwarted a Russian try and seize the capital, Kyiv, close to the beginning of the conflict. The Kharkiv marketing campaign got here as a shock for Moscow, which had relocated a lot of its troops from the area to the south in expectation of a counteroffensive there.

In a clumsy try to avoid wasting face, the Russian Protection Ministry stated Saturday the troops’ withdrawal from Izyum and different areas was supposed to strengthen Moscow’s forces within the neighboring Donetsk area to the south. The reason sounded comparable how Russia justified its pulling again from Kyiv earlier this yr.

Igor Strelkov, who led Russia-backed forces when the separatist battle within the Donbas erupted in 2014, mocked the Russian Protection Ministry’s clarification of the retreat, suggesting that handing over Russia’s personal territory close to the border was a “contribution to a Ukrainian settlement.”

The retreat drew an offended response from Russian army bloggers and nationalist commentators, who bemoaned it as a serious defeat and urged the Kremlin to step up its conflict efforts. Many criticized Russian authorities for persevering with with fireworks and different lavish festivities in Moscow that marked a metropolis vacation on Saturday regardless of the debacle in Ukraine.

Putin attended the opening of an enormous Ferris wheel in a Moscow park on Saturday, and inaugurated a brand new transport hyperlink and a sports activities enviornment. The motion underlined the Kremlin’s narrative that the conflict it calls a “particular army operation” was going in keeping with plan with out affecting Russians’ on a regular basis lives.

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Professional-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov criticized the Moscow festivities as a grave mistake.

“The fireworks in Moscow on a tragic day of Russia’s army defeat may have extraordinarily severe political penalties,” Markov wrote on his messaging app channel. “Authorities mustn’t have a good time when individuals are mourning.”

In an indication of a possible rift within the Russian management, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed head of Chechnya, stated the retreat resulted from blunders by the Russian brass.

“They’ve made errors and I feel they are going to draw the mandatory conclusions,” Kadyrov stated. “In the event that they don’t make adjustments within the technique of conducting the particular army operation within the subsequent day or two, I will probably be compelled to contact the management of the Protection Ministry and the management of the nation to elucidate the true scenario on the bottom.”

Regardless of Ukraine’s beneficial properties, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the pinnacle of NATO warned Friday the conflict would probably drag on for months, urging the West to maintain supporting Ukraine by means of what could possibly be a troublesome winter.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and member of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee, known as Ukrainian advances very encouraging.

“I’m proud that the U.S. and our allies have locked arms to assist the Ukrainian folks on this combat,” Kaine stated in an announcement to The Related Press. “We and our allies should maintain standing with Ukraine. Putin wants to acknowledge that the one means out is to finish his failed conflict.”


Related Press author Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington contributed.


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