Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday described the withdrawal of troops from two regions in Ukraine as redeployment. A military expert called it a rout.
“It looks like the last few days have been the most significant of the war in Ukraine,” military expert Mike Martin wrote in a Twitter thread Saturday. “After what we have seen in the last 72 hours, the collapse of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine does not seem far off.”
The withdrawal of Russian troops – from the districts of Balaklia and Izyum in the eastern Kharkiv region to the Donetsk region – followed a lightning counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces.
“The Russians fled Izyum in what can only be described as an escape,” wrote Martin, a former British army officer who served multiple tours in Afghanistan as a political officer. “The Ukrainians just fought back with a brilliant combined arms maneuver.”
Ukraine’s military might has affected Russian morale, according to the Institute for the Study of War, which wrote on Thursday: “Ukrainian successes along the Kharkiv-Izyum line are creating cracks in the Russian information space and undermining confidence in the Russian command to a degree not seen since the failed crossing on the Russian River in mid-May.
Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said Saturday that the move was made “to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbas,” according to the Associated Press. However, such a claim followed Russia’s failure to capture the capital Kyiv earlier this year.
“The Russian forces were probably taken by surprise,” he said This was announced on Saturday by the British Ministry of Defense, adding that the captured area is only lightly held. “Ukrainian units are now threatening the city of Kupyansk; its capture would be a serious blow to Russia because it lies on the supply routes to the front line in Donbass.
Martin also noted the importance of the counteroffensive for Donbass, writing: “Russian units are trying to move into Donbass. Once there, they have to deal with the loss of Izyum and Kupyansk – the two railway hubs for that side of the country… the Russians will no longer be able to conduct offensive operations in the Donbass until (if ever?) they reconfigure their logistics .”
Russia’s military troubles in Ukraine come amid signs of crumbling support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Friday, municipal deputies in a Moscow district called on Putin to resignclaiming to have returned Russia to the Cold War era.
Earlier this week, lawmakers in St. Petersburg called for Putin to be removed and charged with treason over his decision to invade Ukraine. They were immediately summoned to a police station on charges of discrediting the country’s armed forces.
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