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Ukraine’s one-two-punch counter-offensive catches Russians by surprise

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Ukrainian forces surprised occupying Russians with a one-two punch Thursday, pushing deep into enemy territory to open a second front in Kyiv’s counterattack.

Ukrainian authorities announced the liberation of 20 villages in the northeast, outside Kharkiv, as the military pushed for the occupied city of Izyum — all while continuing a fierce fight for Kherson in the south.

Oleksiy Hromov, a deputy chief with the general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine, said Thursday that his nation’s forces — pushing towards the Donbas from Kharkiv — had penetrated more than 30 miles beyond Russia’s defensive line.

“Since the beginning of the week, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in cooperation with units of the National Guard and other security forces, have been conducting active operations in certain directions,” he said, according to Ukrainian outlet Ukrinform. “In the course of active operations in the Kharkiv direction, more than 20 settlements were liberated.”

Videos circulating on social media Thursday claimed to show Ukrainian troops lowering a Russian flag in Nova Husarivka, halfway between the front line and the city of Izyum, a major Russian staging ground.

Ukrainian authorities announced the liberation of 20 villages in the northeast.
Ukraine war map as of Sept.  8, 2022

The video followed reports from Russian separatists Wednesday of enemy contact in Balakliya, just north of Nova Husarivka, and the downing of a Russian jet in Volkhiv Yar, even farther north — the speed and direction of the Ukrainian advance hinting at Izyum as a target.

Russian media did not confirm the loss of the villages — but did cite Chechen fighters loyal to Moscow who claimed to have repelled a Ukrainian attack on the other side of Izyum, near the Donbas cities of Soledar and Seversk

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov — a Putin puppet prone to hyperbole — told Russian newswire TASS that his troops had routed a Ukrainian advance.

The liberation of villages would signal a massive move in the six month long war.
The Ukraine war has been in a stalemate for months.

“The Ukrainian command sends detachments of servicemen to missions that are almost suicidal,” Kadyrov said.

“This picture of soldiers of the armed forces of Ukraine recklessly attacking our positions has been repeated for the fourth day and numerous times,” he added.

But the Ukrainian gains, if confirmed, represent a large victory for Kyiv after a months-long stalemate following the fall of Luhansk, the northern of the two provinces that make up the industrial heartland of the Donbas region.

And should Ukrainian forces take Izyum, it is expected that the move would cut off a major supply line to an already beleaguered Russian army in the Donbas.

Ukrainian Brig. Gen. Oleksiy Gromov briefed reporters on the northeastern movements Thursday, and praised his military’s slow-moving, Turkish-made Bayraktar drones.

“Enemy infantry and motorized artillery units unprotected by air defense systems become easy prey for our Bayraktars,” he said.

The victories come after weeks of so-called “shaping operations” — preparing the battlefield to Kyiv’s advantage, often through pummeling bridges and supply routes with Western-made long-range rocket artillery, cutting Russian forces off from supplies and one another.

The attack on Russia’s northern flank seems to have caught the Kremlin by surprise. With continued Ukrainian pressure on the Kherson region in the south, the Ukrainian military has effectively split Russian attention in two — and disrupted Russian supply lines between the two fronts.

Russia has refused to confirm or deny the status of the villages.
Ukrainian soldiers lowered the Russian flag and raised a Ukrainian flag.

Ukrainian authorities said Thursday that the Russian command continues to focus on holding Kherson — an early prize for Moscow in the opening days of the invasion.

Hromov told reporters that Ukrainian forces continue to make gains on the southern front in Kherson — but Russian resistance remains.

The Defense Ministry said Thursday that Ukrainian artillery continued to harass Russian logistics and supply lines in the region, at the direction of guerrilla forces behind Russian lines.

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