Ukrainian forces have liberated the entirety of Kharkiv west of the Oskil river. After a rapid counteroffensive that sought to push against areas north of liberated Izyum and Balakliya, Russian forces retreated from the region in what many analysts have called a rout.
The Russian Ministry of Defense described the retreat as a ‘regrouping effort’ to focus on a claimed offensive in the Donbas. Despite this, Ukrainian advances have been reported in the region, particularly near Lysychansk and in settlements near Sievierodonetsk. Air defense activity was reported in Sevastopol, as was the reported launch of Russian missiles from submarines in the Black Sea.
Russia’s decision to regroup east of the Oskil river is likely to not form a sufficient bulwark against future Ukrainian advances, given that the Oskil river is best fordable during this time of year by armored vehicles, of which Ukraine’s several mechanized brigades participating in the offensive have a surplus of. Moreover, the sheer amount of captured equipment left in the wake of Russia’s retreat from Izyum will, after being sorted, likely contribute greatly to Ukrainian efforts in the region.
Soon after the retreat from most of Kharkiv, Russia launched a massive missile attack that crippled Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Condemned internationally as a terror attack, particularly on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, the strikes only further riled Ukraine’s people against Russia.