Russia will push on with its invasion of Ukraine until all military goals are met, the Kremlin has said, as it responded to Kyiv’s massive counter-offensive in the east, which has reclaimed over 3,000 square kilometres of terrain.
The Russian military setback is the Kremlin’s biggest since it was forced to U-turn on plans to take the Ukrainian capital and has led to a rising tide of recriminations in Moscow over who is to blame.
President Vladimir Putin is fully briefed on the relocation of Russian forces, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. The defence ministry has acknowledged that Russian troops were pulled back in the Kharkiv region, but authorities have since avoided calling it a retreat.
“The president is in constant, round-the-clock communication with the minister of defence, and with all the military commanders,” Peskov said.
Asked if Putin still trusts his military leadership, Peskov replied that the “special military operation” — the name Moscow gives to its invasion of Ukraine — will continue, and “will continue until all the goals that were originally set are achieved.”
On Monday, Ukrainian troops worked to consolidate gains they have made since launching the offensive east of Kharkiv. In Izyum, a key logistics hub where thousands of Russian troops had been stationed, Ukrainian soldiers hoisted the national flag over the central district government building in the main square.
Nataliya Humenyuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern operations command, said on Monday the country’s forces in the southern Kherson region, where Ukraine initiated an earlier counter-offensive, had also liberated about 500 sq km of territory from Russia’s forces.
“Our progress during the last two weeks is quite convincing. We have advanced in different sections from four to several dozen kilometres. We have freed areas — about 500 sq km,” she said.
Towns liberated included Visokopiylya, Novovoznesenske, Bilohirka, Sukhy Stavok and Myrolyubivka, she said.