Ukraine Breaks Russia’s Grip in the North: Updates From Bloggers

A Ukrainian counteroffensive is advancing in the north but not in southern Kherson, where Russian defenses are more visible.  Ukrainian authorities and the Russian military portrayed a fast counteroffensive in the north on Thursday, the first time since the crisis began that Ukrainian forces might get through Russian defenses more than strategically. Putin intensifies energy market tensions, slowing development. Kyiv wants to show allies the war can be won.

In the days after the attack on Balakliya,90 km south-east of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, Ukrainian soldiers moved 50 km into Russian-held territory and took 20 settlements. Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, claimed fighters had cleared 1000 km2 (386 sq mi) since September. Pro-Kremlin Russian blogger Alexander Kots said many Ukrainian forces outran weapons.

Kots was concerned that Ukraine had cut ties with Kupyansk, a key Russian base in the eastern Donbas. He said Ukrainian troops blocked the Russian line north of town. Kots told his 1,000,000-subscribers, "The situation is difficult." In Kherson, Russian bloggers predicted heavy losses and a halting Ukrainian push.Slowly, Ukraine attacks crucial points.

Tuesday, a group of Ukrainian troops led by 15 tanks kept moving toward Balakliya. They took over eight nearby towns in less than a day and another the next day.

A development group of extraordinary talents flies in a densely covered section at speed into the center of a community, gets off, smothers everything, and then holds the settlement.

OnWednesday, allegedly the Russian aviation corps had joined and was bombing Ukrainian soldiers. Shevchenkovo succumbed to the Ukrainians on Thursday. Western and free Russian military experts look at Russian bloggers to see if they report the war in a way that goes against what the Kremlin wants.

The previous daily report from the Organization for the Investigation of War called the Russian Safeguard Service's silence on Ukrainian additions the largest since Moscow's canal crossing effort in May. The Ukrainian army will rapidly seize Kupyansk.

On Friday, Russia's security service published a video showing tanks and other military equipment redeploying to Kharkiv.

Ukraine's future is unclear because it lacks the resources to acquire and hold a broader territory.

Lloyd Austin, US Guard Secretary, said Ukraine uses Mischief missiles efficiently. "Kherson has progressed, Kharkiv has results," he told Prague columnists. A top Ukrainian official said a war-ready counteroffensive in 2023 would need additional staff and weapons.

Zaluzhnyi mentioned the Izyum front near Kharkiv as a difficulty. The Izyum front's strategic and transit hub is Kupyansk, 75 kilometers south.

Interrupting the passage of troops and supplies into Izyum could diminish the threat to Slovyansk, a critical town for Putin's plan to seize the entire Donbas. The Russian blogger ZakharPrilepin tweeted Friday, "We need to hold in Izyum. The city's soldiers are weak."

According to Wargonzo, a hardline Russian message site with 1 million followers, Kremlin forces locked down Kupyansk on Thursday due to a psychotic dread of Ukrainian saboteurs. Russian viewers are depressed by the Russian military's performance and initiative after Kharkiv.

Igor Girkin, a Russian blogger who led pro-Russian soldiers in Donbas in 2014, said last week, "I expect no more big military successes in the next 2-3 months."

"No Russian group has been defeated, so all the lives and equipment that have been lost aren't worth it," Girkin said.

Northern tides change. A Russian conflict-study organization said Thursday that "Russian fortifications still can't be despatched" despite Ukrainian advances toward Kupyansk.