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Russian TV acknowledges ‘substantial victory’ for Kyiv

Moscow’s state-run TV outlet made a rare admission of battlefield losses Friday, with an acknowledgment that Ukraine had achieved a “substantial victory” in breaking through Russian lines this week.

“The very fact of a breach of our defenses is already a substantial victory for the Ukrainian armed forces,” Vitaly Ganchev, the head of Russia’s occupation forces in the Kharkiv province, said on Russian state TV.

“The enemy is being delayed as much as possible, but several settlements have already come under the control of Ukrainian armed formations.”

The admission is also a notable indication of Russian surprise at the Ukrainian counterattack, given the Kremlin’s blanket ban on any war reports that break from official accounts.

The broadcast comes a day after Ukraine made a major advance from Kharkiv towards the contested Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Volunteers clear the rubble of a destroyed house as a result of shelling in village of Moshchun, Kyiv region, on September 9, 2022
Volunteers clear the rubble of a destroyed house as a result of shelling in village of Moshchun, Kyiv region, on Sept. 9, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images
A photo of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to a crowd during a joint news briefing in Kyiv.
REUTERS

The surprise assault caught Russian troops off guard, as many of Moscow’s resources had already been shifted southward to block Kyiv’s much-telegraphed attempt to liberate Kherson in the south.

Ukrainian officials indicated the tactic was intentional, and that Kyiv’s publicized focus on Kherson was used to draw troops away from Russian supply lines in the north.

“We found a weak spot where the enemy wasn’t ready,” as Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych put it in a video posted on YouTube.

Ganchev said occupation forces were evacuating civilians from several cities in anticipation of further Ukrainian gains – including in Izyum, a northeastern city that has served as a resupply hub for Russian forces operating in the Donbas.

A photo of Russian military tanks heading towards the front lines.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said troops reclaimed more than 1,000 square km of territory in the Kharkiv region in the east and in the south.
via REUTERS
A photo of Russian military tanks heading towards Kharkiv.
“We see success in Kherson now, we see some success in Kharkiv and so that is very, very encouraging,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a news conference.
via REUTERS

Arestovych said Friday that Russian forces in Izyum were almost cut off from the main Russian force.

The Ukrainian also claimed that hundreds of Russians had been captured and hundreds more killed in the few days of fighting.

The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video Friday that purported to show reinforcements rushing into the area to stem the Ukrainian tide.

A photo of a residential building in Kyiv after an explosion.
A report said millions have been driven out of their homes and countless have died since the start of the Ukraine-Russian war.
AP
Russian rockets launched against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region.
Ukraine officials say Russia has moved thousands of troops south following the Ukrainian advancement in the front lines in the Kherson region.
AP

But meanwhile, social media was awash with videos claiming to show Ukrainian troops raising blue and gold flags across what until very recently was occupied territory.

The victories have been difficult to confirm, as Ukraine has been tight-lipped about its operations, and limited access to journalists.

But one image showed Ukrainian troops in front of a sign welcoming them to Kupyansk – a city northeast of Izyum on the Oskil river, that serves as a junction point for several of the rail lines Russia has used to move men and supplies.

Damage at the scene of a residential building following explosions, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 26, 2022.
Damage at the scene of a residential building following explosions, in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 26, 2022.
AP

Indeed, Ukraine’s pincer maneuver seems reliant on exacerbating issues with Russia’s supply chain.

The counterattack in Kherson began after weeks of so-called “shaping operations,” using long-range rocket artillery to blow up bridges and disrupt supply lines, trapping Russian forces on either side of the wide Dniper river, and slowing the transportation of equipment and ammunition.

Zelensky said Friday that Ukrainian forces have “liberated dozens of settlements” on both the southern and northern fronts, reclaiming some 385 square miles of territory from the Russians.

“We see success in Kherson now, we see some success in Kharkiv and so that is very, very encouraging,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday during a news conference with his Czech counterpart in Prague.

With Post wires

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