uCarniola units continued to advance to the strategic hub of Kupyansk in the north-east of the country on Friday. Several sources reported that soldiers reached the western and southern outskirts of the city after penetrating fifty kilometers deep into Russian-held territory in just three days.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that the war was entering a "decisive phase". "Ukrainian forces managed to stop Moscow's offensive in Donbass, fought back behind Russian lines and retake territory."
American Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that Ukrainethat their counter-offensive is "demonstrably making real progress" and following a "strong plan". Blinken briefed the North Atlantic Council in Brussels on his visit to Kyiv the previous day.
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy After his meeting with Blinken, he spoke in a video speech that "a thousand square kilometers" and "dozens of settlements" had been liberated since the beginning of the month. This referred to the offensives in the northeast and south, where Ukrainian units have been advancing since late August. The last time there was a comparably dynamic situation was in May, when Ukrainian forces succeeded in pushing back the Russian occupying forces near Kharkiv.
The American think tank Institute for the Study of War confirmed the land gains. Ukrainian troops would probably take Kupyansk within 72 hours. The city, which had around 30,000 inhabitants before the start of the war, is the most important transshipment point in the north-east of the front. Road and rail links cross here, supplying Russian troops in Izyum and Severodonetsk directly from Russia.
Situation in Kupyansk "complicated" according to occupiers
In Moscow this was created for President Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine unfamiliar image of being on the defensive. Contrary to its usual practice, the Ministry of Defense did not publish its own version of what happened on Friday, but only published pictures showing moving troop transporters, trucks with howitzers and Lada SUVs, with the addition that they were being transferred to the Kharkiv region.
State television reported that this was intended to ward off a Ukrainian "counter-offensive" and allowed two representatives of the Russian occupying forces to speak. One said attacks by Ukrainian "saboteurs and terrorists" on the city of Kupyansk had been repelled; However, the situation there is “quite complicated”. The other admitted that the "suburbs" of the city of Balakliya -- which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Thursday would be liberated -- are no longer "controlled by us"; there are losses on the Russian side, but Ukraine is recording “crazy losses”. The latter later announced the evacuation of civilians from Kupyansk and Izyum.
Putin's spokesman did not want to comment on a press question about developments around Balaklija, among other things. The Ministry of Defense had previously reported an attack on a Ukrainian arms depot in the city - and thus indirectly admitted that it was no longer controlled by its own troops.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg called on allies to "dig deeper into their camps and supplies to provide Ukraine with the supplies it desperately needs." Without specifically mentioning Germany, he dismissed the German government's argument that further substantial supplies would come at the expense of national and alliance defense. "If President Putin wins in Ukraine, it will not only be bad for Ukrainians, but for all of us," said the NATO Secretary General.
By supporting the country, you increase your own security, especially since Russia has eighty percent of its army in action. Blinken pointed out that the United States has already spent $14.7 billion on Ukraine's defense. The support from the Ukraine contact group, which met again in Ramstein the day before, is having an effect on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, the Russian President himself was once again concerned with history. On Thursday evening, the Kremlin published a greeting from Putin on the rededication of a memorial to Soviet soldiers who died in World War II in the occupied Donetsk region. It was destroyed in battles in 2014, for which the narrative of the fight against "fascism" was used even then. Putin described the opponents as "newly minted Nazis" and, with a view to the dismantling of Soviet monuments in "some countries", called the re-erection a "warning to all who have renounced their ancestors and forgotten the lessons of history".
In Saint Petersburg, meanwhile, seven deputies from a district in the center of the city were summoned by the police for "discrediting" the army. On Wednesday evening they had written to the Duma, the lower house, asking them to remove Putin from office. The letter states that Putin's decision to launch the "special operation" harms Russia's security and shows signs of treason.
Combat-capable units of the Russian army would be destroyed; young, able-bodied Russians would be killed or disabled; Russia's economy is suffering; NATO is expanding; instead of being “demilitarized” as Putin intended, Ukraine was receiving modern weapons.