Ukrainian troops break through Russian defenses in the south, advance in the east

  • Ukraine makes gains in two of four regions annexed by Russia
  • Recapture of Lyman’s strategic hub improves access to the Donbas
  • Elon Musk’s proposal to end war draws Ukrainian condemnation
  • Ukraine says it has disabled 31 Russian tanks in the south

SVIATOHIRSK/KYIV, Oct. 4 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces have breached Russian defenses in the south of the country, while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, taking more territory in Russia-annexed areas and supplying lines for its troops threatened.

Ukrainian forces made their biggest breakthrough in the south since the start of the war, retaking several villages on Monday in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said.

Ukrainian forces in the south destroyed 31 Russian tanks and one multiple rocket launcher, the army’s southern operational command said in a nightly update, without detailing where the fighting took place.

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Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

The southern breakthrough reflects Ukraine’s recent advances in the east, even as Russia has tried to raise the stakes by annexing land, ordering mobilization and threatening nuclear retaliation.

Ukraine has made significant progress in two of the four Russian-occupied regions that Moscow annexed last week after what it called referenda — votes labeled illegal and coercive by Kiev and Western governments.

In a sign that Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, Reuters on Monday saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles on their way to fortify the Lyman railway junction, which was recaptured over the weekend, and a way station to penetrate the Donbas region.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Ukrainian army had taken towns in a number of areas, without giving details.

“New population centers have been liberated in several regions. There is heavy fighting in various sectors of the front,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk – one of the two regions that make up the Donbas – said Russian forces had taken over a psychiatric hospital in the city of Svatovo, a target on their way to recapture the major cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk.

“There is quite a network of underground chambers in the building and they have taken up defensive positions,” he told Ukrainian TV.

To the south, Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Dudchany along the western bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.

“There are settlements occupied by Ukrainian troops,” said Saldo.

Dudchany is about 19 miles south of where the front stood before Monday’s breakthrough, signaling the war’s fastest advance in the south. Russian troops had been dug there in heavily fortified positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion.

While Ukraine has not yet provided a full report on developments, military and regional officials have released some details.

Soldiers of Ukraine’s 128th mountain assault brigade have raised the blue-and-yellow national flag in Myrolyubivka, a village between the former front and the Dnipro, according to a video released by the defense ministry.

Serhiy Khlan, a Kherson regional councilor, listed four other villages that had been recaptured or where Ukrainian troops had been photographed.

“It means that our forces are advancing vigorously along the banks of the Dnipro, closer to Beryslav,” he said.

Reuters could not independently verify the developments.

‘ATTACK POSSIBILITY’

The southern advance is aimed at supply lines for as many as 25,000 Russian troops on the western bank of the Dnipro. Ukraine has already destroyed the river’s main bridges, forcing Russian troops to use makeshift crossings.

A significant advance downstream could cut them off completely.

“The fact that we have broken through the front means that … the Russian army has already lost the ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it could lose the ability to defend,” said Oleh Zhdanov, a military officer. analyst in Kyiv.

Ukraine appears to be on track to achieve several of its objectives on the battlefield, giving it “a much better defensive position from which to emerge from what is likely to be a suppression of the hot fighting over the winter,” said Celeste Wallander, a senior Pentagon official, on Monday.

Just hours after a concert in Moscow’s Red Square on Friday, where Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya Russian territory forever, Ukraine recaptured Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of the province. Donetsk.

Billionaire Elon Musk on Monday asked Twitter users to think about a plan to end the war, including proposing UN-controlled elections in the four occupied regions and recognizing Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014. as Russian.

The plan was immediately condemned by Ukrainians, including President Zelenskiy. read more

Russia’s disappointing fortunes have sparked a mood swing in the state media, where talk show hosts are acknowledging setbacks and looking for scapegoats.

“We will not have it easy for a while. We should not expect good news now,” said Vladimir Solovyov, the most prominent presenter on state television.

The commander of Russia’s western military district, which borders Ukraine, has lost his job, Russian media reported Monday, the latest in a string of top officials being fired after defeats.

(This story is being edited to correct the spelling of Balance in paragraph 13)

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Reporting by Reuters agencies; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Sam Holmes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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