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Ukraine update: Izyum is liberated! Lyman is liberated! Kupyansk is liberated!

These are Ukrainian soldiers who fought outside Izyum in April. I just hope some of these guys were there to watch Russia leave.

On a day marking the conclusion of an already incredible offensive that has liberated thousands of square kilometers in northeastern Ukraine, Saturday morning brought news that seems too perfect to be true: Russian troops have reportedly either fled or surrendered in Kupyansk, then in Lyman, and now in Izyum. Sites that have been under Russian occupation for months and at the center of Russian operations in eastern Ukraine have been liberated.

Not only that, but all three areas have been liberated without a lengthy street-to-street battle or a drawn-out artillery duel. This means that, unlike cities conquered by Russia, such as Severodonetsk or Mariupol, these cities were not reduced to rubble in the process. It is the definition of a win-win. With an extra win.

You may have noticed that this morning’s update does not include maps. That’s because I don’t clue on how to draw them. Russian troops have reportedly fled these strategic cities, but have they also moved away from all the frontline positions they have fought for for so long? What’s going on in Andriivka and Ivanivka, and dozens of other points that are now on the wrong side of a line that apparently flew 50km back at night? There are reports of large-scale surrenders in some areas and of highways being clogged with fleeing vehicles in others. Nothing has been confirmed and it will probably take days for the picture to become clear.

Is the conquest of these cities in a sense complete? Lots of statues are coming in from Kupyansk, but less from Izyum and Lyman. It is possible that Ukrainian troops in one of these cities have occupied part of that place and that fighting is still ongoing. However, reports from Russian sources certainly seem to indicate that Lyman and Izyum have “surrendered” – mostly shouting at Moscow for not taking swift action (and in some cases calling for a nuclear attack). There was definitely fighting in Kupyansk, but it seems just as definitively over.

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This is an official Russian media outlet that reports that “Russian troops left the city of Izyum in the Kharkov region.” And that’s about the best we’ll get for anything definite until Ukraine makes its own official announcement. (On the Telegram channel of that same outlet, Izyum is not mentioned at all. Instead, the only war news is three days of coverage of Ukrainian shelling that reportedly killed two in Donetsk, and a mysterious report of a “refugee line” near Kuyansk.)

Early this morning (6am ET, 2pm in Kiev) there were reports that: Sviatohirsk, in that arc of the front line between Lyman and Izyum, was occupied by Ukrainian troops moving west, with more Ukrainian troops pushing north from positions south of the city – from places like Dovhen’ke, where they fought so long and so hard. Those are both good indications that Russian forces have fled, not just the towns, but the smaller sites around them that have marked the frontline for weeks and in some cases months.

The common assumption is that when the dust settles, everything west of the Oskil River will be in Ukrainian control. How far Ukraine extends to the other side of that river, and north of the Siverskyi Donets, remains to be seen. So far there is no sign of Ukraine sitting back to congratulate itself on the work done and take a break. Maybe they don’t have to. After all, there are numerous reports on Saturday morning of Russian troops fleeing locations such as Svatove, which is another 31 miles from any fighting.

The Russian reserves reaching the area are said to become entangled in traffic with the vehicles of Russian troops, local collaborators and the Russian cadre of propaganda artists – all trying to get out. Chaos is not a bad description.

There is still a lot of information to be revealed on all fronts.

At the moment it is still unclear how much of Kuyansk has liberated Ukraine. It certainly appears to encompass the entire city as far as the river, but it is not known whether Russian troops fled the part of the city overlying the damaged bridge. The Oskil could become the new frontline, or – and there are reports that it is already happening – Ukrainian troops could pull down the east bank of the river, further securing the railway lines and liberating the string of towns along that bank. That will take another day, or maybe more, to discover. Russia had reportedly already sent a number of reserve units to this city. There may be more fighting, or those units may have already been intercepted and routed elsewhere.

In Izyum, Russia seems to have made the surprisingly wise decision to withdraw troops along the last remaining road to the east, rather than have them surrounded and fight it out within Izyum. How many of those forces, or forces that were west of Izyum, failed to get out and eventually surrendered… we don’t know. How much of their armor and supplies are left behind… we don’t know (although we already have images suggesting it’s a lot). Ukrainian officials will now race to the city to assess the situation with Izyum’s water supply, electricity grid and gas pipelines, and to ensure food continues to arrive for the city’s population, many of whom have been forced to leave. more than six months of Russian occupation. Expect to hear a lot more about what Russia has been up to during that time, and learn a lot more about what happened along the front, as well as how Ukraine chose to deploy from what was certainly a primary target of this counter-offensive.

Near Lyman, Ukrainian troops reportedly entered a town virtually empty of Russian troops. That city had already suffered considerable damage from the artillery-heavy conquest that Russia made at the end of May. Has anything been done to repair that damage and keep Lyman a functional city over the summer? Again, most of what’s coming out about Lyman right now is reports from Russian sources who are disgusted at being on the losing side. What happens now? We’re going to find out.

In less than a week, Ukraine has liberated an area likely larger than 3,000 square kilometers and a number of towns, cities and towns likely to be in three-digit numbers. This is definitely one for the history books. The Ukrainian military may be able to continue this swift attack. There are some sources that indicate that the number of units involved in Kharkiv’s counter-offensive so far is only about a third of the force that Ukraine had equipped and trained for this fall’s counteroffensive.

Does the liberation of Izyum, Kupyansk and Lyman mean the end of that quick push? I don’t know. While all this is going on, there has been renewed fighting in Kherson, where Ukrainian forces are reportedly having success on the south side of the front (including gifts of those reportedly world-storming watermelons from local residents). There have also been reports of increased anti-Russian activity in cities like Melitopol and even Mariupol, where supporters have reportedly raised Ukrainian flags on the word of victories in the north.

On Friday, there were many Russian channels on Telegram and pro-Russian accounts on Twitter, all singing the same song: Sure, Ukraine has won some small victories, but Russia is moving reserves to the area. The troops next to Izyum will be trapped. Kuyansk is safe. Russia would be back in Balakliya in a few days. Everyone should just wait until Saturday, when those reserves come in, and see how things look on a new day.

It’s a new day. And what a day!

Russian gets the news of what happened

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Russia’s Third Army Arrives

It seems that some of those reserves have made it through the fray. Just in time to end up in this fight like all other Russian units.

Kuyansky

Izyum

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Lyman

Frankly… I have nothing. All I have from Lyman now are text messages and a few photos of buildings. If you see good images of Lyman or other locations, please post them.


Saturday 10 Sep 2022 13:53:19 +00:00

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Mark Sumner

Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this. My first reaction is to say, “Vovchansk? How can a Ukrainian force even be near Vovchansk? That is impossible.’ You know, like I said about Oskil two days ago.

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