Ukrainian troops keep up pressure on fleeing Russian forces

In order to prepare for the counteroffensive that has dealt a major damage to Moscow’s military reputation, Ukrainian soldiers applied greater pressure to retreating Russian forces on Tuesday, pushing deeper into seized territory and forcing more Russian troops to evacuate.

The army reportedly grabbed possession of Vovchansk, a town that had been captured on day one of the battle and was just 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Russia, as the push proceeded, according to Ukraine’s border guard agencies. Russia has admitted that it just withdrawn soldiers from several regions in Kharkiv’s northeastern district.

According to the city’s pre-occupation mayor, Russian forces were also leaving Melitopol, the second-largest city in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region. His assertion was not immediately corroborated.

Since early March, Melitopol has been under occupation. By taking it, Kyiv would have the chance to sabotage Russian supply routes between the eastern and southern Donbass, the two main regions where troops supported by Moscow control territory.

Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, posted on Telegram that Russian forces were moving toward Crimea, which Moscow had seized. At a checkpoint in Chonhar, a settlement defining the border between the Crimean peninsula and the Ukrainian mainland, he said there had been reports of columns of military equipment.

Svitlana Honchar said that the Russians left the recently liberated settlement of Chkalovske in the Kharkiv area abruptly and quickly.

After putting food assistance cans in her vehicle on Tuesday, Honchar said, “They disappeared like the wind.” They were escaping using every available method.

In the quick departure, several Russians looked to have been left behind. She responded, “They were attempting to catch up.”

Whether the Ukrainian assault, which began after months of little to no action, might mark a turning point in the almost seven-month conflict was not yet obvious.

However, the government was upbeat, posting video of its soldiers burning Russian flags and looking at burnt, abandoned tanks. Border patrol officers can be seen tearing down a sign that said, “We are one people with Russia,” in one video.

Considering that Russian President Vladimir Putin still has soldiers and resources at his disposal, Ukraine’s American allies were cautious not to proclaim an early win. Momentum has previously shifted back and forth.

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, said that forces were retaliating with “huge attacks” in all directions in response to Russia’s worst loss since its failed effort to seize Kyiv early in the conflict. However, there were no indications of a sharp increase in Russian strikes right away.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, said that Ukrainian forces were enforcing “stabilization measures” over area they had retaken in the south and east while also collecting up Russian soldiers, “saboteurs,” and accused collaborators.

Zelenskyy promised to bring the freed regions back to normal in his evening speech.

He gave the example of how, after months of occupation, inhabitants in one town had already started getting pension payments, saying, “It is absolutely crucial that along with our forces, with our flag, ordinary, regular life enters the de-occupied zone.”

As Russian forces withdrew, there were several reports of pandemonium and assertions that they were massacring. There was no way to verify the assertions.

Hanna Maliar, the deputy minister of defense for Ukraine, said that Kiev is dropping flyer-filled shells in advance of the Russian troops’ approach in an effort to induce even more of them to surrender.

“Russians treat you like ammunition. Your existence has no significance to them. You don’t need this conflict. The fliers said, “Surrender to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Following the withdrawal, Ukrainian officials entered a number of locations to look into allegations that Russian forces had killed civilians.

Since Saturday, the Kharkiv regional police has regularly claimed that law enforcement personnel have discovered human remains with evidence of torture across previously Russian-controlled territory. It was unable to independently verify their claims.

Russian military allegedly set up “a torture chamber” in the local police station in the 25,000-person town of Balakliya, which was held from March until last week, according to allegations made by regional police on Tuesday.

Serhii Bolvinov, the chief of the police force’s investigation division, said in a Facebook post that Russian military “always held at least 40 people hostage” on the property, citing the evidence of locals in Balakliya.

Military experts were attempting to comprehend Moscow’s setback at the same time.

According to British intelligence, the conventional Russian troops intended to oppose NATO as well as one of Russia’s top units, the 1st Guards Tank Army, were “severely weakened” during the invasion.

The British authorities predicted that Russia would need years to develop this capacity.

According to Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Putin and an independent Russian political expert, the defeat may revive Russia’s interest in peace negotiations.

Zelenskyy has made it plain that Russia must restore all of the Ukrainian land, including Crimea, even if Putin were to sit down at the bargaining table, Gallyamov added.

Talks are technically impossible since this is unacceptable to Moscow, he said.

Since Putin’s options have been limited by his prior acts, he “wouldn’t be able to put anything substantive on the table.”

Putin “would need to resign and be replaced by someone who’s reasonably untarnished by the present scenario,” like his deputy chief of staff, the mayor of Moscow, or the Russian prime minister, according to Gallyamov, if discussions are to proceed.

The Russian attack on Ukrainian positions continued despite the withdrawal. Oleh Syniehubov, the regional governor, said that it bombarded the Kharkiv region’s Lozova city, killing three people and injured nine others.

And according to Ukrainian authorities, Russia continued to shell the area near the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, where fighting has sparked concerns of a nuclear meltdown. Six shelling attempts were made during the night in the Nikopol region, which is located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility, but no casualties were immediately recorded, according to regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko.

Additionally, attacks on Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine and one that has been repeatedly shelled by artillery for months, have continued unabatedly.

One resident of one of Kharkiv’s battle-damaged apartment complexes took a defiant tone when he returned to feed the birds, stating that if the Ukrainian counteroffensive was successful, there would probably be brutal Russian reprisal against civilian targets. However, he asserted that the Kremlin will fail in its attempt to intimidate regular Ukrainians.

Serhii, who only supplied his first name, said that Putin “would attack so we don’t have water or power, to create more turmoil and terrify us.” “But he won’t win because Putin will soon pass away and we will endure! ”

Rarely has Putin’s war in Russia prompted public outcry as the counteroffensive has. Some of the war’s supporters downplayed the concept that Ukraine had contributed to its success, blaming instead Western soldiers and weaponry for the casualties.

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