For days, it’s seemed every story about activity in Kharkiv has included the phrase “and we don’t actually know what’s happening on the west bank of the Siverskyi Donets River.” After racing up the river to surprise everyone by grabbing Staryi Saltiv, Ukrainian forces then began shelling the area surrounding the bridge near Rubiznhe. When that bridge was blown, shells began falling farther north near Starytsya. But did that mean Ukrainian forces were racing up the river? Were they moving forces out of the area after failing to capture an intact bridge?
Why not option C? Ukrainian forces today pushed through Russian positions to reach … Russia.
In another massive and unexpected move, Ukrainian forces have reportedly cut a path 18km northwest of Staryi Saltiv and recaptured the town of Ternova along with the surrounding territory. If true, this means that Russian-occupied territory within Ukraine is no longer contiguous, but has been split on the north end.
Assuming Ukrainian forces have taken the areas as described, it isn’t the first time that Ukraine has reached the Russian border, of course. Ukraine already controlled the Russian border region all the way from just east of Chernahiv in the north down to just outside Kozacha Lopan north of Kharkiv. But there’s no doubt that any action at Ternova is making Russia gulp. Not only does it place Ukrainian forces at the border in a location very close to critical Russian supply lines, Ukraine has twice in the last few days demonstrated the ability to move quickly, surprise Russian troops, and capture a large chunk of territory in an unexpected direction.
In addition, Ukraine reportedly took villages like Slobozhanske and Pytomynk, tightening down the space still occupied by Russian forces. There is still fighting just outside of Lyptsi, and whether Russia still controls Petrivka … who knows? There’s a good chance that if Russian forces are still there, it won’t stay that way for long.
Perhaps the best thing about Ukrainian forces unexpectedly moving to recapture Ternova is that it puts us right back into the position we were in this morning — we have no idea what Ukrainian forces in this area are going to do next. Neither does Russia.
Not only does this side by side from @war_mapper give you a thumbnail view of progress north of Kharkiv, the dots he has here for towns and villages gives a good sense of just how many different locations have been liberated in this brief period of high activity. I usually take recaptured towns from past days off the map, leaving just those sites around the front line, to make each day’s actions more legible, but it’s nice to see them all here.
MilitaryLand.net is out with their daily summary. However, they put this together before the news about Ternova was firmed up. So, while they still report considerable activity north of Kharkiv, it’s not quite as exciting as it could be. That said, their report does include this sweet line: “The Russian army has reportedly begun to withdraw from the Kharkiv area across the border back to Russia.”
That would seem to be worth a solid huzzah.
Elsewhere, they report on Russia capturing Velyka Komyshuvakha west of Izyum, a process that’s been underway for the last few days. Outside of that small change, the message in other locations is the same: Russia attacked, but Ukrainian troops successfully repelled the attacks. That also seems to be true in the area of Popasna, where Russia has not yet been able to exploit Ukrainian forces departing from the heavily damaged town.
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