Ukrainian forces break through in the south as Putin’s problems mount

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Ukrainian forces break through in the south as Putin’s problems mount

Kyiv’s troops pushed forward Monday, threatening a major new breakthrough and forcing Russian soldiers to retreat from territory the Kremlin claimed to have annexed.


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Oct. 3, 2022, 5:49 AM MST / Updated Oct. 3, 2022, 6:45 AM MST

By Rhoda Kwan

Ukrainian forces appeared to make sweeping new gains Monday, piling pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin faced growing domestic unease over the state of its struggling military and the chaotic efforts to reinforce it.

Kyiv’s troops were pushing forward in the country’s east and south, threatening a major new breakthrough and forcing Putin’s soldiers to retreat from territory he claimed to have annexed in a grand ceremony last week.

Moscow has matched its annexation claims with a call-up of reservists and new nuclear threats, a broad intervention that has not only threatened to escalate its clash with Ukraine’s Western allies, but also expose domestic vulnerabilities.

Russian lawmakers Monday ratified the illegal annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions: Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. But while the Kremlin said it had not yet determined where the borders for its newly claimed land would be established, the areas under its control were being rapidly pushed back.


Advances in the south and east

Moscow said its troops abandoned Lyman over the weekend to avoid encirclement, with Western officials and observers hailing Ukraine’s recapture of the city in the eastern Donetsk region as a significant development that could pave the way for further advances.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said his military had retaken two settlements in the southern Kherson region. “The successes of our soldiers are not limited to Lyman,” he said in a statement on Telegram on Sunday.

That was the first official sign of significant Ukrainian gains in the south, where Russia concentrated the majority of its forces to repel a long-touted counteroffensive — opening itself up to the surprise push in the northeast that has turned the tide of the war.

After weeks of slow progress and relentless artillery fire in the south, Ukraine seemed to be surging forward there as well.

“Superior enemy tank units succeeded in wedging into the depth of our defense,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said in an update on Telegram.

“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 Kherson, told Russian state television, according to Reuters.

“There’s a settlement called Dudchany, right along the Dnieper River, and right there, in that region, there was a (Ukrainian) breakthrough,” he said. That would represent a major forward thrust of about 20 miles, threatening thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the river.

Meanwhile, retaking Lyman allowed Ukrainian forces to advance into the neighboring Luhansk region.

Kyiv’s troops “managed to cross the administrative border of the LPR and gain a foothold in the direction of the settlement of Lysychansk,” said Andrii Marochko, a Russian-installed official in the self-proclaimed breakaway “Luhansk People’s Republic.”

Lysychansk is a key city that Russia seized after weeks of grinding battles earlier in the year.

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