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Ukrainian troops filmed themselves taking over posts along the border with Russia – a sign of the frantic evacuation of the occupying army from the region around the country’s second city, Kharkiv, after the surprising counterattack of the Ukraine last week.
The irrefutable evidence of the failure of the Russian military is creating unprecedented dismay among Moscow propagandists who both reflect and shape public opinion, while generating euphoria in Ukraine.
“Very many skeptics have started a total reassessment – and soon they will rush to be friends with us,” said Alexei Arestovich, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The mood is much sourer in Moscow.
Speaking on a live chat show, former State Duma deputy Boris Nadezhdin said Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by his advisers that Ukraine would be easy to conquer and that Russian troops would be welcomed as liberators.
“We have to understand that it is absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using those resources and those methods of colonial warfare with which Russia is trying to wage war,” he said on the show. followed by Julia Davis, a journalist who created the Russian Media Monitor.
“A strong army opposes the Russian army,” he said, adding that Russia should start peace talks.
But others advocate an even more ruthless approach to Ukraine.
State Duma Deputy Sergei Mironov called the Kyiv government a “Nazi regime” and said it “must be destroyed”.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the English-language television channel RT and who is subject to EU sanctions, has called on Russian forces to attack Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure as a war crime.
“There are nuclear power plants there, a lot of infrastructure that can be disabled… very quickly and easily, and for a long time,” she said. said on a Sunday night show. “People ask me, why don’t we do this? I have no response. Maybe it’s time to do it? »
This is the approach the stunned Russian army takes in an effort to avenge their humiliating retreat. Russian missiles rained down on Kharkiv on Sunday, hitting a power plant and plunging the city into darkness for several hours. Electricity was also partially cut off in Poltava, Sumy and Dnipropetrovsk regions.
On Monday afternoon, Kharkiv faced another blackout.
“Last night’s situation repeated itself. Due to the shelling, critical infrastructure was disabled, leading to the shutdown of electricity and water supplies,” said the city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov.
Igor Girkin, the former Russian officer who was one of the instigators of the 2014 war in eastern Ukraine, called the strikes on power plants “very useful”.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that “Russia’s barbaric bombing…has once again proven that we are facing terrorists.”
But Russian retaliation isn’t slowing down Ukraine’s military, which continued to advance against the Russians on Monday as social media was filled with movies Ukrainian troops taking large quantities of abandoned ammunition, tanks and weapons.
Over the weekend, the Russians withdrew from most of the Kharkiv region, allowing the Ukrainians to push their troops to the international border. Although the Russians are trying to form a new defensive line along the Oskil River in the east of the region, there is reports that it has already been penetrated by the Ukrainian army.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has also said that four villages had been recaptured near Kherson in the south of the country.
Girkin said Ukrainian artillery was firing at the village of Novomykhailivka, not far from the city of Donetsk, which has been one of Russia’s main conquests since 2014.
Arestovich said that “the breakthrough, fast-forward, tsunami phase” is replaced by “a phase of consolidating results as well as battles for the most beneficial borders – as springboards for the next leaps”.
He warned that attacking civilian targets would only bring more help from Ukraine’s allies and “accelerate the fall of Putin’s regime”.