There is a growing concern that the Russian Situation in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine is getting more dire each day. In the last few days, the Ukrainian Army launched an ambitious offensive that aimed to force Russian forces to leave a large portion of Kharkiv Oblast, which they've illegally taken over since February. I wrote about the first stage of the offensive in Putin's War Week 28.
Since then there has been a radical change.
The main area in the northern portion of the operational zone is Kupyansk, the capital city. It is a railroad and highway hub, through which all freight and personnel from Russia need to travel to reach Russian military forces from Kharkiv and the western part of Donbas. To remind you of this, it is important to note that the Russian Army is a railroad-based army. It has a large number of active railroad repair soldiers, however it is extremely lightweight in cargo trucks.
The loss of Kupyansk not only strips Russia of its rail hub but also puts the railway line to the east in the vicinity of artillery tubes. For rail lines to be used, that enter Donbas from the east, trains must be diverted by a few hundred miles. If you're looking to entertain yourself by exploring the Russian rail network and the state of the bridges in that net, you could do better than this diagram.
The Russians appear to have left Kupiansk.
After the main offensive started, Ukraine launched two supporting attacks on Izyum (Izium) as well as Lyman (Liman).
The two cities could have a connection to yours because they were the hubs of supply of the highly successful Russian military operation that took place in Donbas between June and July.
Numerous sources, Ukrainian and Russian, on Telegram say that Izyum and Lyman were abandoned. There is a geo-located video of Ukrainian forces positioned on the edge of both cities. However, there's no sound of battles that is raging behind them.
While I am writing this article, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the withdrawal from Izyum.
What makes the situation more difficult for the Russians is the fact that the troops under attack face a significant water obstacle in their rear and to their rear, that is the Oskil River. The Russians aren't able to withdraw completely as they cannot consolidate. The central and northern rivers are under Ukrainian control. Ukrainian forces are moving along on the bank to the west without any resistance.
Pro-Russian collaborators are fleeing from the region and blocking the roads that retreating Russian troops and Russian reinforcements need to use.
There are no confirmed reports regarding the fact that Oskil, the capital located at the southern side of the main river, is now in Ukrainian control. If the town is taken over and the account of Lyman falling is true then what the Russians are dealing with is a tragedy.
Not visible in the battle are the Russian Air Force and Russian missile strikes. In my blog last night (Putin's War, Week 28. It's the Sitzkrieg Goes Blitzkrieg as Ukraine's Army Travels 50 kms in 2 Days), it is clear that the Ukrainians are moving their sophisticated anti-aircraft equipment close to their troops that are moving. Russian artillery appears to be rapidly overrun and has not been involved in the fight.
The devastation is already spreading out of the front line. The headquarter of the collusionist United Russia party has just declared they are advising it is the Russian Army is abandoning the city of Volchansk which lies close to the Russian border. Consequently, it is believed that the Ukrainian quislings have also retreated to Russia.
The Ukrainian offensive in Kharkiv is in progress for about a week and is expected to soon be out of steam. Eventually, we should observe the lines settling on the Oskil river. When an offensive within Kharkiv Oblast was underway, the battle that was taking place in Kherson Oblast continued. The tragedy in Kharkiv is likely to play a major part in that as the front was dependent on rail lines that had been cut.
What the Kremlin is now facing is a major political disaster and military one too. It's difficult to imagine what the future holds for Russia if Putin will continue to run the fake “special military operation” in the context of this.