Russian troops have surrendered en masse in the face of a rapid Ukrainian counter-attack that is continuing to gain ground today, leading some to hope that a turning point in the war has finally been reached.
Kyiv’s military intelligence said large numbers of Moscow’s soldiers had laid down their weapons rather than fight troops advancing east out of Kharkiv because ‘they understand the hopelessness of their situation’.
Oleksiy Arestovich, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the military has captured so many Russian soldiers over the last several days that it is running out of space to house them – with military intelligence spokesman Andrey Yusov adding that ‘significant’ numbers of Russian officers are among them.
Meanwhile, Russian troops fighting a second counter-attack in the southern Kherson region were said to be negotiating their own surrender having apparently run out of ammunition – though details from the frontline are sparse amid an information blackout imposed by Kyiv.
Zelensky, speaking in a late-night address, said Ukraine’s armies had captured a total of 2,300 square miles in the east and south since the beginning of September – an area about four times the size of Greater London – as he called on Western allies to supply more weapons to help consolidate the gains.
Ukraine and the West must ‘strengthen cooperation to defeat Russian terror’, he said, while calling specifically for air defence systems to help protect civilian areas that Putin’s commanders have begun targeting as ‘revenge’ for their battlefield defeats – blowing up power stations in the city of Kharkiv on Monday.
Zelensky described the strikes as ‘a sign of the desperation of those who invented this war.’
He added: ‘This is how they react to the defeat of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region. They can’t do anything to our heroes on the battlefield and that’s why Russia is directing its vile strikes against civilian infrastructure.’
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 with the aim of carrying out a days-long ‘special military operation’ to bring the country back under the Kremlin’s sway, but was dealt a humiliating defeat around Kyiv and fled.
Putin’s commanders refocused and stated the new goal was to fully ‘liberate’ the eastern Donbas region, where it was hoped the open countryside and closer proximity to Russia would help bring greater success.
What followed was months of bloody attritional warfare that saw both sides suffer huge casualties while Russia made slow but steady advances under withering artillery fire.
But as that advance slowed Ukraine – which had taken time to recruit and train new soldiers, and equip them with newly-supplied Western weapons – launched a long-awaited attack to reclaim the southern city of Kherson.