After victory in Kharkiv, Ukraine prepares offensive to retake Luhansk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops were gaining ground as Russian soldiers abandoned territory. "The occupiers are clearly in a panic," Zelenskyy said

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 03:45 PM IST
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Ukrainian soldiers in an upbeat mood following their victories in Kharkiv | Twitter/@LvivJournal

Ukraine has said that its troops are now preparing an offensive in the eastern Luhansk province in the Russian-controlled Donbas region, setting the stage for a push to potentially recapture parts of that Russia captured in its entirety over the course of its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces have regained complete control of the village of Bilohorivka in the eastern Luhansk region and are now preparing to retake the whole province, according to Luhansk’s Ukrainian governor Serhiy Gaidai.

The village is only 10 km west of Lysychansk city, which fell to the Russians after weeks of high-intensity mechanised attrition battles in July. If these claims are confirmed, it would mean that Crimea in the south is the only Ukrainian province controlled in full by Russia.

"There will be fighting for every centimeter," Gaidai wrote on Telegram. "The enemy is preparing their defence. So we will not simply march in."

Moscow increasingly nervous

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops were gaining ground as Russian soldiers abandoned territory.

"The occupiers are clearly in a panic," Zelenskyy said in a televised address late on Monday, adding that he was now focused on "speed" in liberated areas.

He may be right -- in a sign that could signal increasing nervousness among Russian-backed spearatist forces, Denis Pushilin, head of the Moscow-based separatist administration in Donetsk, called on his fellow separatist leader in Luhansk to combine efforts toward preparing a referendum on joining Russia.

In addition, former Russian President and Putin loyalist Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday that it is "essential" that Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine carry out referendums that would see their regions join Russia.

In a post on social media, Medvedev said making the Moscow-backed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics officially part of Russia was a vital step in protecting their interests and could further justify Russia's use of military force to protect them.

Only three countries recognize the two self-declared republics as independent: Russia, Syria and North Korea.

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