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Ukraine advances, crosses Russian lines in south

Ukraine appears to be making huge inroads into recapturing Russian-claimed territories, days after Putin annexed four provinces.

October 4, 2022
By Jonathan Landay and Tom Balmforth
4 October 2022

Ukrainian forces have achieved their biggest breakthrough in the country’s south since the war began, bursting through Russian defences and advancing rapidly along the Dnipro River, threatening supply lines for thousands of Russian troops.

In a sign Ukraine is building momentum on two fronts, 300km to the north-east columns of Ukrainian troop vehicles could be seen heading to reinforce rail hub Lyman, retaken at the weekend and a staging post to press into the Donbas region.

Kyiv gave little information about the gains in the south, but Russian sources acknowledged that Ukrainian troops had advanced dozens of kilometres along the river’s west bank, recapturing a number of villages along the way.

Russians lineup to get Kazakhstan’s a Personal Identification Number in a public service center in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Monday. Kazakhstan, together with the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia, comprised two of the most popular destinations for those crossing by land in an effort to avoid the call-up. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)

The breakthrough mirrors the recent Ukrainian successes in the east that have turned the tide in the war, even as Moscow has tried to raise the stakes by annexing territory, ordering mobilisation and threatening nuclear retaliation.

“The information is tense, let’s put it that way, because yes, there were indeed breakthroughs,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.

“There’s a settlement called Dudchany, right along the Dnipro River, and right there, in that region, there was a breakthrough. There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces,” he said.

Dudchany is around 30km south of where the front stood before the breakthrough, indicating the fastest advance of the war so far in the south, where Russian forces had been dug into heavily reinforced positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion.

While Kyiv has yet to give an account of the developments, military and regional officials did release some details.

Soldiers from Ukraine’s 128th Mountain Assault Brigade raised the country’s blue and yellow flag in Myrolyubivka, a village between the former front and the Dnipro, according to a video released by the Defence Ministry.

Photos have been posted of Ukrainian soldiers posing with their flags claiming to have recaptured a variety of towns. Reuters could not immediately verify where the images of flags had been recorded.

The advance is targeting supply lines for as many as 25,000 Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnipro. Ukraine has already destroyed the main bridges, forcing Russian forces to use makeshift crossings. A substantial advance down river could cut them off entirely.

“The fact we have broken through the front means that… the Russian army has already lost the ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it could lose the ability to defend,” said Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv.

Since the start of September Ukrainian forces have swiftly seized territory in the country’s east to gain control of Russian supply lines, cutting off larger Russian forces and forcing them to retreat.

Just hours after a concert on Moscow’s Red Square on Friday where Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian territory forever, Ukraine recaptured Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.

That has opened the way for it to advance deep into Luhansk province, threatening supply routes to territory Moscow captured in some of the war’s bloodiest battles in June and July.

On Monday armoured vehicles, fuel tanks and trucks carrying troops and supplies trundled past devastated towns and villages and the hulks of Russian tanks sitting along the road or inside shell-shattered forests, testimony to the fierce battle before Lyman fell.

Russia’s flagging fortunes have led to a shift in mood on once triumphal state media, where talkshow hosts have been acknowledging setbacks and searching for scapegoats.

“For a certain period of time, things won’t be easy for us. We shouldn’t be expecting good news right now,” said Vladimir Solovyov, the most prominent presenter on state TV.

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