Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine appears to be an unprecedented disaster after his army suffered an astonishing collapse, with defenders reclaiming some 2500 square miles of territory that had been occupied since March.
The most recent failures have prompted a disorderly retreat to the east, which has made the goal of taking all of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions considerably harder to attain.
Putin may become hard pressed to explain his “special military operation” to families that lost loved ones who are among the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation’s massive casualty list.
The collapse of the Russian military force has ignited recriminations among Kremlin officials, influential military commentators and Russian state media personalities.
A group of elected officials in St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, called for the Russian leader to be charged with treason and removed from office in a rare but brazen protest against the war in Ukraine.
A petition posted on Twitter by St Petersburg municipal deputy Xenia Torstrem and signed by more than 30 other municipal deputies, is calling for Putin’s resignation: “We, the municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of President Vladimir Putin harm the future of Russia and its citizens,” the translated petition read. “We demand the resignation of Vladimir Putin from the post of President of the Russian Federation!”
Nikita Yurefev, a municipal deputy for Smolninskoye in St. Petersburg, published similar assertions, saying: “Putin’s actions pose a threat to Russia’s security. He should be fired!”
According to Torstrem, another 84 people signed the petition on Monday.
The elected officials who called on the country’s State Duma to remove Putin from power for committing crimes of treason, have all been summoned on charges of “discrediting the ruling authorities.”
The Ukrainian counteroffensive is routing the invaders and collapsing Russia’s northern Donbas axis.
Russian forces are not conducting a controlled withdrawal and instead, they are hurriedly fleeing southeastern Kharkiv Oblast to escape the possibility of encirclement around Izyum.
Russian forces have previously weakened the northern Donbas axis by redeploying units from this area to Southern Ukraine, complicating efforts to slow the Ukrainian advance or at minimum deploy a covering force for the retreat.
Ukrainian gains are not confined to the Izyum area; defense forces reportedly captured Velikiy Burluk on September 10, which would place Ukrainian forces less than ten miles of the international border.
Ukrainian forces penetrated Russian lines to a depth of up to 45 miles in some places and captured over 1,100 square miles of territory in five days – more territory than Russian forces have captured in all their operations since April.
Ukrainian forces inflicted a major operational defeat on Russia by recapturing so much land in a rapid counter-offensive, but they continued and doubled those gains over the weekend.
The Ukrainian success resulted from skillful campaign design and execution that included efforts to maximize the impact of Western weapons systems such as High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Kyiv’s long discussion and then an announcement of a counter-offensive operation aimed at Kherson Oblast drew substantial Russian troops away from the sectors on which Ukrainian forces have conducted decisive attacks in the past several days.
Ukraine’s armed forces employed HIMARS and other Western systems to attack Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in Kharkiv and Kherson Oblasts, setting conditions for the success of this operation.
Ukrainian leaders discussed the strikes in the south much more ostentatiously, however, successfully confusing the Russians about their intentions in Kharkiv Oblast.
The Ukrainian recapture of Izyum ended the prospect that Russia could accomplish its stated objectives in Donetsk Oblast.
The lightning advance forced thousands of Kremlin troops to make a quick retreat, leaving behind ammunition stockpiles and equipment, reports of abandonment that could be “indicative of Russia’s disorganized command and control,” the defense official said.
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his forces had recaptured almost 2,500 square miles of land in the east and south of Ukraine.
The loss of Izyum marks Russia’s worst military defeat since March, when its troops were unable to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and were forced back.
For Ukraine, the rapid advance could be a turning point in the 6-month-old war that moves the fighting out of a battle of attrition.