ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive near the Russian-held city of Izium in eastern Ukraine, a regional governor said on Saturday, in what could prove to be a serious setback for Moscow’s plans to seize the entire Donbass region.
Russian forces have focused much of their firepower on Donbass in a second phase of their invasion announced on April 19, after failing to reach the capital Kiev from the north in the first weeks of the war.
But Ukraine is reclaiming territory in the northeast, pushing Russia away from Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. Keeping up the pressure on Izium and Russia’s supply lines will make it difficult for Moscow to encircle Ukrainian troops on the eastern front of the Donbass.
Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky also said complex talks were under way to find a way to evacuate large numbers of wounded soldiers from a besieged steel mill in the port of Mariupol in exchange for the release of Russian prisoners of war.
Mariupol, which was the scene of the biggest fighting in the nearly three-month war, is now in Russian hands, but hundreds of Ukrainians are still defending the Azovstal steelworks despite weeks of heavy Russian bombardment.
Western military analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals did not anticipate such fierce Ukrainian resistance when they launched the invasion on Feb. 24.
Commenting on the latest developments in eastern Ukraine, regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments posted on social media: “The most tense place remains the direction of Izium.”
“Our Armed Forces went on a counteroffensive there. The enemy is retreating on some fronts and this is a result of the character of our Armed Forces,” he said.
Copyright © Thomson Reuters.