Humiliation for Putin’s troops continues as they now begin to abandon major city Melitopol

Humiliation for Putin’s troops continues as they now begin to abandon major city Melitopol

Humiliation for Putin‘s troops is continuing as they begin to abandon the major city of Melitopol in the face of Kyiv‘s lightning counter-offensive.

The city’s pre-occupation mayor said that Russian troops were pulling out of the area in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region. 

Mayor Ivan Fedorov wrote on Telegram that Russian troops were heading towards Moscow-annexed Crimea.  

He said columns of military equipment were reported at a checkpoint in Chonhar, a village marking the boundary between the Crimean peninsula and the Ukrainian mainland.

It comes as Russian troops have also pulled out of areas in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, including Vovchansk- a town just 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Russia seized on the first day of the war.

In the newly freed village of Chkalovske in the Kharkiv region, Svitlana Honchar said the Russians’ departure was sudden and swift.

‘They left like the wind,’ Honchar said Tuesday after loading cans of food aid into her car. ‘They were fleeing by any means they could.’

She explained that some Russians were ‘trying to catch up’ after being left behind in the hasty retreat. 

It was also reported that there had been chaos because of Russian troops pulling out- and claims that they were surrendering en masse.

The city's pre-occupation mayor said that Russian troops were pulling out of the area in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region. Pictured: Military vehicles in Melitopol

The city’s pre-occupation mayor said that Russian troops were pulling out of the area in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region. Pictured: Military vehicles in Melitopol 

Ukrainian officials have released footage of their forces burning Russian flags and inspecting abandoned, charred tanks as the country’s pushback continues. 

 In one video, border guards tore down a poster that read, ‘We are one people with Russia.’

And Kyiv is trying to persuade even more Russian soldiers to give up by launching shells filled with flyers ahead of their advance, according to the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar.   

The flyers read: ‘Russians use you as cannon fodder. Your life doesn’t mean anything for them. You don’t need this war. Surrender to Armed Forces of Ukraine.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian forces were carrying out ‘stabilization measures’ across recaptured territory in the south and east, and rounding up Russian troops, ‘saboteurs’ and alleged collaborators.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy also pledged to restore normalcy in the liberated areas.

‘It is very important that together with our troops, with our flag, ordinary, normal life enters the de-occupied territory,’ he said, citing an example of how people in one village had already begun receiving pension payments after months of occupation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian forces were carrying out 'stabilization measures' across recaptured territory in the south and east, and rounding up Russian troops, 'saboteurs' and alleged collaborators

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian forces were carrying out ‘stabilization measures’ across recaptured territory in the south and east, and rounding up Russian troops, ‘saboteurs’ and alleged collaborators

In the wake of the retreat, Ukrainian authorities moved into several areas to investigate alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops against civilians.

Since Saturday, the Kharkiv regional police have repeatedly reported that local law enforcement officers have found civilian bodies bearing signs of torture across territories formerly held by Russia. It was not possible to verify their statements.

On Tuesday, regional police alleged that Russian troops set up ‘a torture chamber’ at the local police station in Balakliya, a town of 25,000, that was occupied from March until last week.

In a Facebook post, the head of the police force’s investigative department, Serhii Bolvinov, cited testimony from Balakliya residents and claimed that Russian troops ‘always kept at least 40 people captive’ on the premises.

Military analysts have sought to understand the gravity of the blow sustained by Moscow in the war. 

British intelligence said that one premier force, the 1st Guards Tank Army, had been ‘severely degraded’ during the invasion, along with the conventional Russian forces designed to counter NATO.

In the wake of the retreat, Ukrainian authorities moved into several areas to investigate alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops against civilians. Pictured: A Ukrainian flag waves above the City Hall in Izium, Kharkiv region

In the wake of the retreat, Ukrainian authorities moved into several areas to investigate alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops against civilians. Pictured: A Ukrainian flag waves above the City Hall in Izium, Kharkiv region

‘It will likely take years for Russia to rebuild this capability,’ the British officials said.

The setback might renew Russia’s interest in peace talks, said Abbas Gallyamov, an independent Russian political analyst and former speechwriter for Putin.

But even if Putin were to sit down at the negotiating table, Zelenskyy has made it clear that Russia must return all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, Gallyamov said.

‘This is unacceptable to Moscow, so talks are, strictly speaking, impossible,’ he said.

Putin’s previous actions ‘have restricted his room to maneuver,’ so he ‘wouldn’t be able to put anything meaningful on the table.’

For talks to be possible, Putin ‘would need to leave and be replaced by someone who’s relatively untarnished by the current situation,’ such as his deputy chief of staff, the Moscow mayor or the Russian prime minister, Gallyamov said.

Despite the retreat, Russia shelled the city of Lozova in the Kharkiv region, killing three people and injuring nine, said regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov.

Strikes have also continued from Russian troops around Europe’s largest nuclear facility, where fighting has raised fears of a nuclear disaster. 

The Nikopol area, which is across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, was shelled six times during the night, but no injuries were immediately reported, said regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko.

Despite the retreat, Russia shelled the city of Lozova in the Kharkiv region, killing three people and injuring nine, said regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov. Pictured: A damaged warehouse in Lozova in May

Despite the retreat, Russia shelled the city of Lozova in the Kharkiv region, killing three people and injuring nine, said regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov. Pictured: A damaged warehouse in Lozova in May 

Strikes have also continued unabated on the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest and one that has been hammered by artillery for months.

Among Kharkiv’s battle-scarred apartment buildings, one man who returned to feed the birds struck a defiant tone, saying that the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive would likely prompt harsh Russian retaliation against civilian targets. But he said the Kremlin would not succeed in intimidating ordinary Ukrainians.

Putin ‘will strike so we don’t have water, electricity, to create more chaos and intimidate us,’ said Serhii who only gave his first name. ‘But he will not succeed because we will survive, and Putin will soon croak!’

The counteroffensive has provoked rare public criticism of Putin’s war in Russia. Some of the war’s defenders played down the idea that the success belonged to Ukraine, blaming instead Western weapons and fighters for the losses.

It comes as Kyiv‘s military intelligence said large numbers of Moscow’s soldiers had laid down their weapons rather than fight troops advancing east out of Kharkiv because ‘they understand the hopelessness of their situation’.

Oleksiy Arestovich, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the military has captured so many Russian soldiers over the last several days that it is running out of space to house them – with military intelligence spokesman Andrey Yusov adding that ‘significant’ numbers of Russian officers are among them.

Meanwhile, Russian troops fighting a second counter-attack in the southern Kherson region were said to be negotiating their own surrender having apparently run out of ammunition – though details from the frontline are sparse amid an information blackout imposed by Kyiv. 

Russian POWs

Russian POWs

Russian troops are surrendering en masse in the face of a stunning Ukrainian counter-attack east out of the city of Kharkiv because they ‘realise the hopelessness of their situation’ according to Kyiv’s military intelligence directorate

Ukrainian troops are continuing to take ground in both the north and south of the country, President Zelensky has said, as he called on the West to keep supplying weapons (pictured, Ukrainian forces in Vovchansk)

Ukrainian troops are continuing to take ground in both the north and south of the country, President Zelensky has said, as he called on the West to keep supplying weapons (pictured, Ukrainian forces in Vovchansk)

Soldiers taking part in the Kharkiv counter-attack rip down Russian flags in the city of Vovchansk, which sits close to the Russian border, as they take back territory from Putin's troops

Soldiers taking part in the Kharkiv counter-attack rip down Russian flags in the city of Vovchansk, which sits close to the Russian border, as they take back territory from Putin’s troops

The Ukrainian flag is raised over the city of Vovchansk, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war, as soldiers push Putin's forces back across the border

The Ukrainian flag is raised over the city of Vovchansk, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war, as soldiers push Putin’s forces back across the border

A Ukrainian helicopter carries out attacks in the east of the country while flying at very low altitude, as the military looks to press its advantage after cutting Russian supply lines

A Ukrainian helicopter carries out attacks in the east of the country while flying at very low altitude, as the military looks to press its advantage after cutting Russian supply lines

Flares are fired from a Ukrainian helicopter firing at Russian positions in the east of the country, as Kyiv's men look to press the advantage after a stunning counter-attack in the north

Flares are fired from a Ukrainian helicopter firing at Russian positions in the east of the country, as Kyiv’s men look to press the advantage after a stunning counter-attack in the north

Ukraine has recaptured thousands of square miles of territory in the past two weeks, routing Russian troops east of Kharkiv in a surprise attack while making slow but steady advances around Kherson

Ukraine has recaptured thousands of square miles of territory in the past two weeks, routing Russian troops east of Kharkiv in a surprise attack while making slow but steady advances around Kherson

Head of Russian Orthodox Church urges people to pray for Putin  

An ominous warning has come from Russia’s top churchman that the time has come to pray for Putin.

Russia is in ‘a time of anxiety’ which is ‘very disturbing’, according to recent comments by the normally staunchly pro-Kremlin Patriarch Kirill. 

‘Now the time has come that we must pray stronger than ever for our Fatherland, for our President, for our army, so that the country has strength to maintain its true independence,’ he said.

It comes after Ukraine scored a stunning victory against the Russian armed forces by routing them near the city of Kharkiv, leading some to hope that a turning point in the war has been reached. 

‘I want to say one more time that we live in a very difficult time,’ the patriarch continued.

‘So our prayer today is special, we pray for the head of our state, the Supreme Commander Vladimir Putin who bears very special responsibility.

‘We also pray for all war commanders and those in power.

‘So that Lord gives them wisdom and strength, protects them from sins and mistakes, and inspires them to actions that would protect our Fatherland from every outside threat.’

This included ‘even perhaps the most dangerous and terrible threats’, he said at the Danilov Monastery in Moscow.

The influential Kirill did not make clear what ‘sins and mistakes’ he meant but urged, echoing Putin: ‘We must pray that all dangers will pass our Motherland, so that those who dream of crushing Russia as an independent, truly independent state, will be left with nothing.

‘Russia does not depend on any centres of power that are outside its sovereign territory.

‘This is a great privilege, but it is also a huge cross, because there are always those who would like to bring such a rich, strong country as Russia into the orbit of their influence.’

Russia has a ‘special historical path’ and a ‘worldwide fateful mission’, he said.

‘Today this special mission is returning and placed on the shoulders of our people.’

 

Zelensky, speaking in a late-night address, said Ukraine’s armies had captured a total of 2,300 square miles in the east and south since the beginning of September – an area about four times the size of Greater London – as he called on Western allies to supply more weapons to help consolidate the gains.

Ukraine and the West must ‘strengthen cooperation to defeat Russian terror’, he said, while calling specifically for air defence systems to help protect civilian areas that Putin’s commanders have begun targeting as ‘revenge’ for their battlefield defeats – blowing up power stations in the city of Kharkiv on Monday.

Zelensky described the strikes as ‘a sign of the desperation of those who invented this war.’

He added: ‘This is how they react to the defeat of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region. They can’t do anything to our heroes on the battlefield and that’s why Russia is directing its vile strikes against civilian infrastructure.’ 

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 with the aim of carrying out a days-long ‘special military operation’ to bring the country back under the Kremlin’s sway, but was dealt a humiliating defeat around Kyiv and fled.

Putin’s commanders refocused and stated the new goal was to fully ‘liberate’ the eastern Donbas region, where it was hoped the open countryside and closer proximity to Russia would help bring greater success.

What followed was months of bloody attritional warfare that saw both sides suffer huge casualties while Russia made slow but steady advances under withering artillery fire.

But as that advance slowed Ukraine – which had taken time to recruit and train new soldiers, and equip them with newly-supplied Western weapons – launched a long-awaited attack to reclaim the southern city of Kherson.

Moscow hastily moved troops south to defend it, opening the door to a second attack east out of Kharkiv which succeeded in smashing through Russian frontlines and caused troops to flee the entire region.

As the tide of war shifted back in Ukraine’s favour, the mood across the country turned from one of bitter endurance to one of jubilation.

In Kharkiv, authorities hailed that power and water had been restored to about 80% of the region’s population following Russian attacks on infrastructure that knocked out electricity in many places across Ukraine.

‘You are heroes!!!’ Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov wrote on Telegram, referring to crews who restored utilities in Ukraine’s second-biggest city. 

‘Thanks to everyone who did everything possible on this most difficult night for Kharkiv to normalise the life of the city as soon as possible.’

Meanwhile in Russia, signs of disarray emerged as Russian military bloggers and other commentators chastised the Kremlin for failing to mobilise more forces and take stronger action against Ukraine.

Russia has continuously stopped short of calling its invasion a war, instead describing it as a ‘special military operation’ and relying on a limited contingent of volunteers instead of a mass mobilisation that could spur civil discontent and protest.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader of the Russian region of Chechnya, publicly criticised the Russian Defence Ministry for what he called ‘mistakes’ that made the Ukrainian blitz possible.

A Ukrainian soldier helps a wounded fellow soldier on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier helps a wounded fellow soldier on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier smiles from a military vehicle on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier smiles from a military vehicle on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine

Ukrainian troops are advancing rapidly in the country's north after smashing through poorly-defended Russian lines and causing a rout that has handed the whole of the Kharkiv region back to them

Ukrainian troops are advancing rapidly in the country’s north after smashing through poorly-defended Russian lines and causing a rout that has handed the whole of the Kharkiv region back to them

Ukrainian military vehicles move on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine

Ukrainian military vehicles move on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine

Even more notable, such criticism seeped onto state-controlled Russian TV.

‘People who convinced President Putin that the operation will be fast and effective… these people really set up all of us,’ Boris Nadezhdin, a former parliament member, said on a talk show on NTV television.

‘We’re now at the point where we have to understand that it’s absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using these resources and colonial war methods.’

Some in Russia blamed Western weapons and fighters for the losses.

‘It’s not Ukraine that attacked Izium, but NATO,’ read a headline in the state-supported Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, referring to one of the areas where Russia said it has withdrawn troops.

Elsewhere, residents of a Russian village just across the border from Ukraine were evacuated after shelling by Ukrainian troops killed one person, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

The report cited the head of the local administration in Logachevka, who said Ukrainian troops opened fire at a border checkpoint.

Pro-Kremlin separatists reported that Ukrainian troops were approaching the town of Lyman, a rail hub captured by Russia in late May that offers access to bridges over the nearby Siversky Donets river.

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