From Balakleya to Izyum, the path to the return of Ukraine

From Balakleya to Izyum, the path to the return of Ukraine

The defeated Russian soldier casually smoked a cigarette, listening with a smile as the victorious Ukrainian fighters asked him questions. “So you Russians want to liberate Ukraine? And you bastards wanted to liberate us from what, from whom?” The prisoner tried to convince the commander of the unit that took him prisoner that he did not agree with the invasion of Ukraine. “I was against this war…”

In front of the Izyum Ascension Cathedral, three women brought a pot of potatoes vareniki (dumplings) to Ukrainian soldiers. They thanked their liberators for ending the Russian military occupation. “Give that bastard some food, too,” the officer commanded. The prisoner got his share.

Read more Subscribers only The Russian army retreats before the Ukrainian counteroffensive on the eastern front

“Did you see how people met us? Were you greeted like that when you arrived?” The Russian soldier thought for a second, then replied that even in his hometown, in Russia, “you are not received like that.” He made some of the soldiers smile. But one muttered through his teeth: “I can’t listen to this bastard, I want to kill him.” He retired and went to greet his comrades, who were sitting on the other side of the street, in front of the cathedral. Above them, perched on the belfry, another soldier watched the surroundings.

Women bring homemade food to Ukrainian soldiers who have just regained control of the city of Izyum from Russian troops.

“Today marks 200 days of our resistance”

The city of Izyum is the main prize of the lightning-fast counter-offensive that Ukraine launched on September 6 in the Kharkiv region in the north-east of the country. As soon as its front line was broken through during the fierce battles near Balakliya, the Russian army was defeated, and its units dispersed and fled. Faced with this setback, Moscow announced on 10 September that it had ordered its troops to withdraw from Izyum, where thousands of soldiers were about to be surrounded.

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Kyiv confirmed on Sunday evening in the voice of President Volodymyr Zelensky that the capture of the city is complete. Raisins are now a symbol of how five days of assault can be the turning point of a war. “Today marks 200 days of our resistance. Our fight is for freedom, for independence,” the Ukrainian president said, before paying tribute to every army corps and listing cities that have resisted or been recaptured since the start of the war.

The decisive attack, which broke through the Russian defenses, was carried out on the front line at Balakleya five days earlier. Captain Andrey Malakhov, callsign Fog (“Fog”), led one of the assaults at the head of the 518thth Battalion of the 1st Separate Special Purpose Brigade named after Ivan Bohun, 17thCossack wrestler of the century, who became the national symbol of independent Ukraine.

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