Putin’s troubles deepen as Ukraine break through in Kherson

Putin's troubles deepen as Ukraine break through in Kherson
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Ukrainian forces appeared to make further significant gains on Monday, pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin faced growing domestic unease over the state of its beleaguered army and chaotic efforts to bolster it.

Troops from Kyiv were advancing in the east and south of the country, threatening another major breakthrough and forcing Putin’s soldiers to withdraw from territory he claimed to have annexed in a grand ceremony last week.

Moscow has matched its annexation demands with a call for reservists and new nuclear threats, a sweeping move that not only threatened to escalate its standoff with Ukraine’s Western allies, but also expose its domestic vulnerabilities. .

Russian lawmakers on 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 yet to determine where the borders of its newly claimed lands would be drawn, areas under its control were being pushed back quickly.

Advances in Kherson

Moscow said its troops abandoned Lyman over the weekend to avoid encirclement, with Western officials and observers hailing Ukraine’s recapture of the town in the eastern Donetsk region as an important development that could open up the way to further progress.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said his army had taken over 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.

It was the first official sign of significant Ukrainian gains in the south, where Russia concentrated the majority of its forces to repel a much-vaunted counteroffensive – opening up to a surprise push in the northeast that toppled the course of the war.

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

“Superior enemy tank units managed to penetrate the depth of our defense,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in an update on Telegram.

“The information is tense, let’s put it that way, because, yes, there have indeed been breakthroughs,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied Kherson, told Russian state television. , according to Reuters.

“There is a settlement called Dudchany, just along the Dnieper River, and right there in that area there was a (Ukrainian) breakthrough,” he said. This would represent a major advance of about 20 miles, threatening thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the river.

domestic malaise

Ukraine’s successes despite Russia’s proclaimed annexation have added to mounting pressure on Putin, with voices generally supporting the Kremlin criticizing Russia’s performance in the war.

“The Russian defeat in Kharkiv Oblast and Lyman, combined with the Kremlin’s inability to carry out effective and fair partial mobilization, fundamentally changes the Russian information space,” said the Institute for the Study of war in its latest update.

Discussion of the conflict “has strayed considerably from the preferred narratives of the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) that things are generally under control”, the US-based military think tank added.

Russian nationalist military bloggers have turned to criticism of the war’s direction in recent days, with many reporting on the latest setbacks on the battlefield.

“When so many Russian channels sound the alarm, it usually means they’re in trouble,” Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank, said on Twitter.

As Putin’s proclaimed annexation has been celebrated at patriotic rallies in Russia and the regions it occupies, the domestic mood has become less positive.PA

The country’s state media also reflected the increasingly pessimistic tone.

Dmitry Sablin, a senior lawmaker, told state television on Sunday that Russian forces needed to “stop and regroup” and were facing all kinds of shortages.

Putin sought to bolster his struggling forces by calling up hundreds of thousands of troops, a partial mobilization that was marked by chaotic conscription efforts and an exodus of many people fleeing conscription.

About half of enlisted soldiers in a region of Russia’s Far East have been sent home after being deemed unfit for military service, the local governor said on Monday.

The region’s military commissar was also removed from his post, Khabarovsk Governor Mikahil Degtyarev said in a statement on his Telegram channel.

“The Kremlin’s declaration of partial mobilization exposed the Russian general public to the consequences of the defeat around Kharkiv and then Lyman, shattering the Kremlin’s efforts to portray the war as limited and generally successful,” the Institute for study of war.

Another sign of uncertainty was that it was unclear which lands Russia intended to annex to eastern and southern Ukraine.

“We will continue to consult the people of these border regions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday in response to a question on the subject.

Putin has vowed to use “all available means” to defend the territory he is co-opting, an implied threat of nuclear war to defend his fragile hold on the annexed territory. This grip seemed to loosen more with each new update.


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