RUSSIA/UKRAINE: On Sunday evening, Russia launched a harsh attack targeting prime infrastructural facilities in central and eastern Ukraine as a retaliatory response to a dramatic Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region. Ukraine’s deadly strike has reshaped the nature of the conflict and compromised Russia’s upper hand in the confrontation.
Kharkiv city’s mayor Ihor Terekhov, reported that a strike had destabilised power and water to much of the city, in what he described as an act of “revenge” by Russia for Ukraine’s consistent and rapid battle victories. There were reports of blackouts in Dnipro, Poltava and other eastern cities, potentially affecting millions of civilians.
Ukrainian president, the flagbearer of the Ukraine battle spirit, Volodymyr Zelensky blamed “Russian terrorists” for the blackouts. “No military facilities [were attacked],” the Ukrainian president said in a statement on social media. “The goal is to deprive people of light and heat.”
In his nightly Telegram post on Sunday night, Zelensky boldly reiterated that Russia would persistently fail to crush the spirit of the Ukrainian people and their zeal to protect and uphold their sovereignty.
He appeared to appeal to the Russian leadership and rhetorically taunted them saying, “Do you still think that we are ‘one people? Do you still think that you can scare us, break us, make us make concessions? You did not understand anything?”
In an early evening update on the military situation, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukrainian forces, said Ukrainian soldiers had regained control of about 3,000 sq km of territory since the start of September and were approaching the border in the country’s north-east.
“In the Kharkiv direction, we began to advance not only to the south and east but also to the north. There is 50km to go to the state border [with Russia],” Zaluzhnyi said.
The Ukrainians have successfully retaken the rail hub of Kupiansk, 60 miles east of Kharkiv, and are currently in the process of seizing Izium, which was being abruptly abandoned by the Russians after the defence ministry said their forces were regrouping.
Then on Sunday night, the country’s military said it had seized checkpoints due north of Kharkiv city, on the Russian border, in an area separate from the breakthroughs of the past week, south-east and east of the industrial city.
Russia’s attempt to retaliate manifested in the deliberate attack on power lines to cut electricity on Sunday and plunge the whole of Kharkiv and other surrounding areas into total darkness.
Ukraine’s leadership has long feared that the Russian invasion of something as essential as electricity and fuel could compromise the heating abilities of civilians as Europe approaches a harsh winter.
In Sumy province in the northeast, the governor urged residents to unplug electrical devices. “Electric tension has fallen in the network through the region,” Dmytro Zhyvytsky wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “I recommend disconnecting electrical devices as much as possible.”
Officials in Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk and Poltava regions reported that power was restored shortly after, but Kharkiv remained in total darkness as midnight approached. Mykhailo Podolyak, a top Zelenskiy aide, said the city’s CHPP-5 electricity station had been hit.
The strikes come at a crucial time when Russia is still reeling under the pressure of several Ukrainian victories. It is reported that Ukraine has retaken more territory in five days than Russia had annexed since April in a grand counter-offensive, that has baffled the red army and many of its vocal supporters.
Moreover, Ukrainian forces continued to score rapid and consecutive successes on territorialization on Monday as Moscow grappled with the consequences of the collapse of its occupation force in north-eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s general staff notified on Monday that its forces have recaptured more than 20 towns and nearby villages in just the past 24 hours.
“Taking them under full control and stabilization measures are being carried out,” the general staff said of the newly re-captured settlements.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict that began with Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24 has plunged the whole of Ukraine, its surrounding regions and to a larger extent, Europe, into chaos and crisis.
While Ukraine is still attempting to rise anew after successive acts of Russian aggression, Europe has since then, been compromised in an acute energy crisis, with soaring fuel prices.
The red army continues to launch its unfeeling military operations to subdue and bully Ukraine into submission but is now suffering great losses in men and ammunition in the face of Ukrainian retaliation.
The world holds its breath as the two powers fight it out, with most of its military operations conducted near Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia, fuelling fears of a Chornobyl-like “catastrophe”.