NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Russian troops are pulling back from key areas in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region as Ukrainian soldiers advance, following a major counteroffensive that was launched on Sept. 1.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy championed troop success on the front lines in the north and said that some 30 settlements had been “liberated” from Russian occupation during his nightly address Friday.
Russia state-owned media outlet Tass announced Saturday that Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said troops would being “regrouped” from areas around Balakliya and Izyum to the Donetsk region, though Fox News Digital could not locate the report, suggesting it may have been removed from the site.
Konashenkov reportedly said the regrouping was being made “in order to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbas” – messaging that echoes claims made by Moscow after it failed to take Kyiv earlier this year.
It is unclear if Russian soldiers have left Izyum – a strategically important city for Russia’s advancement in the region.
But Kyiv’s hopes remain high that Ukraine’s advances in recent days will continue to propel them along the front lines, and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Saturday that he is “convinced” that Russia will soon start to withdraw from other areas.
“I am convinced that after a few more successes at the front, even small victories, the Russian troops will start fleeing,” he said in an interview translated by Pravda. “Today we have been destroying their supply chains, warehouses, and so on.
He said Russian morale will fall “like an avalanche” with “each line of defense falling one after the other”.
Earlier Saturday spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Oleh Nikolenko suggested that the Ukrainian troops had retaken the town of Kupiansk, situated along the main supply route to Izyum.
A photo posted later by the Security Service of Ukraine showed soldiers in the strategically important town, suggesting it had been retaken by Ukrainian troops.
The U.K. Defense Ministry assessed Russian forces were “likely taken by surprise.”
“The sector was only lightly held and Ukrainian units have captured or surrounded several towns,” the British military said Saturday, noting its capture “would be a significant blow” to Russia’s supply lines.
Zelenksyy has repeatedly warned his troops and officials not to release details of the counter-offensive publicly, and he renewed these warnings Friday night.
“Please do not hurry with the reports, do not complicate the task for our army with your haste. Please do not report the specific details of the defense operation earlier than the official representatives of our state will say about it,” he said.
Zelenskyy said National Police units were returning to the liberated areas of Kharkiv.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.