KYIV, Ukraine -- Russian troops are fleeing in panic after Ukrainian forces launched an unexpected offensive in the northern province of Kharkiv.
The Ukrainian military Monday (September 12) said it had recaptured more than 20 settlements in the past 24 hours amid a large counter-offensive.
"In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian armed forces drove the enemy away from more than 20 settlements" and are regaining "full control over them", the Ukrainian army said in its daily briefing.
"In their retreat, Russian troops are hastily abandoning their positions and fleeing," the army statement added.
Throughout the weekend, Ukraine also claimed sweeping successes against Russia in the south and the east, including in Izyum, Kupiansk and Balakliya.
Ukraine took back more territory in the past five days "than Russian forces have captured in all their operations since April", the Institute for the Study of War said Sunday, according to the Washington Post.
The Ukrainian counter-offensive this month reaped startling territorial gains after months of little progress by either side.
"Since the beginning of September, more than 3,000 square kilometres have been returned to Ukrainian control," Ukrainian Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny said in a statement on social media Sunday.
Panicking Russian troops dropped their weapons and fled. In Zaliznychne, Kharkiv province, "the Russians fled any way they could on Friday, on stolen bicycles, disguised as locals", the Washington Post reported Sunday.
"They just dropped rifles on the ground," Zaliznychne resident Olena Matvienko told the Post.
Russia, unable to stand up to its foe on the battlefield, resorted to destroying Ukrainian power plants.
On Sunday night, regions in eastern Ukraine saw widespread electricity blackouts after strikes described by Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko as an "act of desperation following Russia's immense losses and retreat in eastern Ukraine".
There was "a total blackout in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, a partial one in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions", Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address on Sunday.
Power was quickly restored in most places.
Fury in Russia
Ominously for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who started this war of choice, pro-war "hawks" in his country reacted with fury to the humiliating images and videos out of Ukraine.
The war's cheerleaders denounced Putin for presiding over the opening of a Ferris wheel in Saturday even as Russian troops ran for their lives in Ukraine.
"You're throwing a billion-ruble party," one Russian blogger posted Saturday, according to the New York Times. "What is wrong with you?"
If the Russian military continues to soft-pedal its defeats in Ukraine, Russians will "cease to trust the Ministry of Defence and soon the government as a whole", warned Yuri Podolyaka, another pro-war blogger, on Telegram Friday, according to the Times.
Russian Defense Minister says that 5938 Russian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war against Ukraine. If the Russian aggressors have lost so many of their men, it is clear that the Ukrainian military has suffered more casualties. Furthermore, the innocent civilians of Ukraine are also the victims of this unnecessary war. All these are human beings. Please stop murdering people. Reconcile with each other, make peace among yourselves, and do not let more people to be killed. Toiling for solving this issue is not only the duty of Russia and Ukraine but also of all the influential powers of the world.Reply
I think the Russian people have an excellent opportunity to eliminate Putin from power. Putin's war in Ukraine, his intervention in Syria and Africa, and Russia's ongoing encroachment on Central Asian resources have made Russia one of the most unpopular countries in the world. Inside the country, Putin has made himself and his friends enriched by stealing and looting the public treasury. Putin has been trying to present himself as the only sympathetic leader of Russia. He censored the media. He silenced dissident voices and killed thousands of innocent people in Chechnya, but after all, Putin's genuine leadership was revealed in Ukraine. It has been said that economically Russia has gone back more than a hundred years during the one year of aggression against Ukraine. With the passing of each day, the world's people hatred increases towards Russians. So, Russians must unite and expel this KGB killer, spy, and dictator to relieve Russia and the world.Reply
Fabulous! It is good that Russia mourned a shameful defeat. This should be a lesson for all aggressors. Russia attacked helpless and defenseless Ukraine, believing it could defeat this country in a few days. However, God had another plan. Putin pushed Russia into a hole of failure. Now, He can't accept defeat for his pride, nor he has the ability to fight. Russia's warfare machine doesn't operate properly, and Russia is facing the problem of lacking ammunition day by day. In the meantime, Putin doesn't want to accept his defeat because Putin's children are not being killed in this war; after all, only Russian soldiers and the oppressed people of Ukraine are the victims of this war.Reply
In the beginning, when Russia attacked Ukraine, and its president encouraged the people to revolt, many said that the president of Ukraine was a man of movies; he would eventually run away and leave the people alone and destroy his country. Still, both the president of Ukraine and his people proved that they are strong fighters and stand against Russia. The way Afghans defeated Russia tens of years ago, they will be defeated by the Ukrainians this time and return ashamed to their homeland. All that will happen is that they will kill their soldiers, suffer financially, and destroy the beautiful Ukraine, which is not the demand of humanity.Reply