Ukraine’s rapid advances ‘creating fissures’ for Russian forces

Ukraine’s military has claimed lightning-quick gains in the east of the country after a surprise counteroffensive was launched this week to recapture territory from Russian forces.

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday it entered the town of Kupiansk in east Ukraine, a key supply hub held by invading Russian forces for several months. Kyiv also reported battlefield successes in the north and south of the country.

Ukrainian special forces published images on social media, which they said showed their officers purportedly in Kupiansk. The photos showed a handful of camouflage-clad soldiers carrying automatic weapons gathered around an armoured vehicle.

A regional official separately posted an image of Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukrainian town of about 27,000 people and wrote “Kupiansk is Ukraine”.

Ukraine has made rapid gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region, driving deep into Russian lines. Kupiansk has been an important rail centre used by Russia since it took control after its February 24 invasion.

“In recent days, more than 1,000 square kilometres [386sq miles] of Ukrainian territory have been liberated from the occupiers,” said Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesman from the Ukraine military.

“Units wedged themselves into the enemy’s defences to a depth of up to 50km [20 miles]. More than 30 settlements temporarily occupied by the Russian invaders in the Kharkiv region were liberated or taken under control.”

Ukrainian troops also advanced on Izyum, a town with a pre-war population of about 45,000, which has served as an important staging ground for Russian military operations.

“Ukrainian successes on the Kharkiv City-Izyum line are creating fissures within the Russian information space and eroding confidence in Russian command to a degree not seen since a failed Russian river crossing in mid-May,” said the US-based think-tank Institute for the Study of War.