What was a surprising but satisfying news in many quarters of the world, on Monday, Ukraine claimed that it had recaptured more villages in the north-eastern part of the country. The news comes at a time when a few confirmed reports of Russian forces being pushed back to the border had already made their way to media.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the nation on Monday and said that Ukrainian forces had retaken more than 6,000 square kilometres of territory since the beginning of the offensive this month. A fact corroborated by the U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken who said, "there has been significant progress by the Ukrainians, particularly in the Northeast."
Blinken credited support from the United States and allies and the, "extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian people," for the development. However, he stopped short of making any predictions saying it was early days and nobody knew where this will go.
What the Russians say?
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the setback and said it was pulling back forces from the area to regroup them in eastern Donetsk region. Unable to spin the Ukrainian wins, even in its state-controlled media, Russia has televised the setbacks its forces had sustained recently. There have been social media reports on how Russian television has been giving less and less airtime to Ukraine war. Several pro-Russian feeds and talk show hosts have been playing down Ukraine's advances.
Pro-Kremlin talk show host Vladimir Solovyov wrote in a post that foreign mercenaries in Kharkiv were heard speaking English. "Either the Ukrainian Armed Forces suddenly switched to this language, or before the advance on Kharkiv the khokhli [slang word for Ukrainians] were reinforced by a large detachment of foreign mercenaries. I believe it's the second." Some have also been crediting efforts by Western countries for the Ukrainians wins and saying that although Ukrainian army was more combat-ready but it wasn't undefeatable.
In one of the article Voanews quoted Boris Nadezhdin, a former Parliamentarian, saying on an NTV talk show, "People who convinced President Vladimir Putin that the operation will be fast and effective, these people really set up all of us." He added, "We're now at a point where we have to understand that it's absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using these resources and colonial war methods."
So has Ukraine turned the tide?
Washington-based Institute for the Study of War recently said that Ukraine has turned the tide in its favour, with help from the West and the weapons provided by it, strategic battlefield planning, among several other crucial factors.
Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration and Ukrainian governor for the region, in an official statement said that in some areas, defenders of Ukraine have reached the state border with Russia. "Our military continues the operation to liberate Kharkiv Oblast from the Russian occupiers. The enemy hastily abandons its positions and flees deep into the previously occupied territories, or immediately into the territory of the Russian Federation."
Ukraine goes slow and steady
Staff of the armed forces of Ukraine also said that it recaptured more than 20 settlements in a span of a day. Some senior U.S military officials have reportedly said that Ukrainians are "making progress" in the efforts to reclaim its areas and territories and Russian forces have ceded ground to Ukraine. In Kharkiv, power and water, that had been cut off by Russia, has been restored to 80% of the population there.
But when will the war end?
Many analysts believe that war will not end until atleast 2023, but have been more sure about predicting the three to four ways that this war could end up. Last month, Russia ruled out any diplomatic solution to end the war and said it wasn't going to be a part of any peace deal. Putin's military invasion in Ukraine has already crossed the six-month mark.
Meanwhile, human rights violations & casualties continue
In a statement, dated September 9, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission updated on the situation in Ukraine. So far, it has corroborated 14,059 civilian casualties; the fact that at least 5,767 civilians were killed and 8,292 injured by hospitalities with actual figures likely to be higher.
The Mission has also verified that, "at least 416 people have been victims of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances in territory occupied by the Russian Federation or in areas controlled by Russian armed forces."
Death and destruction, by a series of Russian attacks, continues nevertheless. Even in reclaimed Kharkiv, a police station was hit by a missile, causing one casualty. Russia also shelled a few areas in Nikopol city, damaging several buildings across the Dnieper River.