Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian troops are making a “good decision” by fleeing a counteroffensive by his country, which has made significant gains in the east and south.
Mr. Zelensky’s comments in a video released by his office came hours after Moscow said it was withdrawing troops from parts of the Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian forces have taken control of large swaths of territory in recent days.
The city of Balaklia, Kharkiv region, was liberated by Ukrainian troops!
The Ukrainian offensive in this area is led by the commander of the Ground Forces of Ukraine, Hero of Ukraine, Colonel-General Alexander Syrsky.
The flag of Ukraine hangs in the center of the city. pic.twitter.com/zQ8ngDitZw
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 10, 2022
“The Russian army these days is showing the best it is capable of, showing its back,” the president said.
“And of course it’s a good decision for them to run.”
The news comes after days of Ukraine’s apparent advance south of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, in what could be the biggest battle success for Ukrainian forces since they thwarted a Russian attempt to seize the capital Kyiv early in the war. almost seven months of war.
The official representative of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, Igor Kanashenkov, said that the troops will be regrouped from the Balakliya and Izyum districts to the east of the Donetsk region.
Izyum has been the main base of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region, and earlier this week videos on social media showed residents of Balaklia gleefully welcoming the entry of Ukrainian troops.
Mr. Kanashenkov said that the Russian move was made “to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbass,” one of the regions of eastern Ukraine that Russia has declared sovereign.
The claim of withdrawing to focus on Donetsk is similar to the justification Russia gave for withdrawing its forces from the Kyiv region earlier this year when they failed to take the capital.
Earlier on Saturday, Ukrainian officials claimed major gains in the Kharkiv region, saying their troops had cut off vital supplies to Izyum.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko also suggested that troops had retaken Kupyansk, a city along the main supply route to Izyum that had long been focused on the Russian front line and the site of heavy artillery and other fighting.
Mr. Nikolenko tweeted a photo showing soldiers in front of what he said was a government building in Kupyansk, 45 miles north of Izyum.
The Security Service of Ukraine published a message a few hours later, which said that there were military personnel in Kupyansk, and also assumed that it had been captured. The military did not immediately confirm entry into the city, a rail hub that Russia captured in February.
Videos appeared on social networks showing Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Izyum at a roadblock. In the pictures you could see a large statue with the name of the city. Ukrainian forces did not admit that they were holding the city.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said it believed Ukrainian forces had advanced 30 miles south of Kharkiv and described Russian forces around Izyum as “increasingly isolated”.
“The Russian forces were probably caught off guard. The sector was only slightly held, and Ukrainian units captured or surrounded several towns,” the British military said, adding that the loss of Kupyansk would greatly affect Russian supply lines.