A phalanx of military pundits sweeping Russian TV admit defeat for the Kremlin in the Kharkiv region as Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive on Wednesday that drove occupation troops from around 300 towns and villages in the north- is.
“The Kremlin has acknowledged defeat in Kharkiv Oblast, the first time Moscow has openly acknowledged defeat,” the Institute for War Studies said in its latest assessment of a war that began with the February 24 Russian invasion.
Kremlin officials and state media propagandists on television discuss at length the reasons for the Russian defeat in Kharkiv. Bogdan Bezpalko, a member of the Russian Council for Interethnic Relations, lamented the lack of military reconnaissance ahead of the counteroffensive, the Daily Beast reported.
“Of course it’s a tactical loss,” Bezpalko said. “I hope it will be very sobering.”
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►The Biden administration is expected to appoint Lynne Tracy, the current U.S. Ambassador to Armenia and a veteran Foreign Service Officer with years of experience in Russian affairs, as the next Ambassador to Russia. According to the rules of diplomatic protocol, the Kremlin would have to approve the appointment.
►Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who worked to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan from Russian captivity, met with Russian leaders in Moscow this week, according to a report person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations.
►Oleksandr Shapoval, an outstanding ballet dancer and teacher who had volunteered to fight against the Russian invasion, was killed on the battlefield on Monday, the National Opera of Ukraine announced. He was 47 years old.
Deflected blame from Putin
Previously, the Kremlin viewed the withdrawal from Kyiv as a decision to prioritize the “liberation” of Donbass. The removal from Snake Island was a “goodwill gesture”.
Now the Institute for the Study of War has said the admission to Kharkiv was part of an effort to deflect criticism for such a devastating failure from Russian President Vladimir Putin towards defense officials.
“The Russian Defense Ministry initially offered a similar explanation for the Russian failure in Kharkiv, claiming that Russian forces were pulling troops out of Kharkiv Oblast to regroup,” the institute’s assessment said. “This false narrative was the subject of rapid and vocal criticism online.”
Zelenskyy visits the broken city of Izium
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Izium on Wednesday, just days after Russian forces left the city in the Kharkiv region. He visited apartment buildings blackened by fire and pockmarked by artillery strikes. The entire center of a residential building had collapsed.
Zelenskyy took part in the ceremony of raising the Ukrainian flag in the city’s central square, in front of the destroyed municipal building.
“It is possible to temporarily occupy the territories of our state,” Zelenskyy said. “But it is definitely impossible to occupy our people, the Ukrainian people.”
As in previous towns and villages occupied and then abandoned by Russian troops, Ukrainian authorities said they found signs of atrocities, including six bodies bearing signs of torture in recently recaptured villages in the Kharkiv region.
“We have a terrible picture of what the occupiers have done. … Cities such as Balakliia, Izium are in the same row as Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said, citing locations where Russian forces allegedly committed atrocities.
Mixed results for Ukrainians in battles to liberate Luhansk
Not content with driving the Russians out of the northeast region of Kharkiv, the Ukrainians are concentrating on Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbass industrial zone that are at least partially occupied by Moscow’s forces.
Regional Governor Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press that Ukrainian guerrilla forces displayed Ukrainian flags in the Luhansk towns of Svatove and Starobilsk. This is part of the campaign to liberate Luhansk province, which has been under Russian control since July.
It promises to be a tough and bloody pursuit. Andrei Marochko, military leader of a local separatist group, confirmed the Ukrainian advance in Luhansk, calling the situation “really difficult”.
But Haidai said the expelled Russians returned to Kreminna on Wednesday – a town of 18,000 people in the western part of Lugansk where the Ukrainians had hoisted their flag – and “took down the flags and demonstrably show that they are there. “.
Haidai added that Russian forces continued to heavily bomb their counterparts in the area, blocking internet service.
European Commission chief visits Kyiv and salutes “the bravery of the Ukrainians”
As European consumers grapple with electricity prices that have soared to five times the cost of a year ago, mainly due to the Russian invasion, the surprisingly successful counter-offensive of the Ukraine in the northeast could help validate the sacrifice.
In her State of the European Union address on Wednesday, European Union Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she would visit Kyiv later today in a show of support for Ukrainians , adding that the bloc was committed to the cause and would open its markets. more to the products of the country.
“We have seen in recent days the bravery of Ukrainians pay off,” said von der Leyen, who was dressed in the colors of the Ukrainian flag and called the war “autocracy against democracy”.
She also called for a rethink of the way the EU sets electricity prices, as the current system “no longer does justice to consumers”.
Contributor: The Associated Press