Kabul: Moscow abandoned its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine on Saturday, in a sudden collapse of one of the war’s principal front lines after Ukrainian forces made a rapid advance.
Russian forces used Izium as the logistics base for one of their main campaigns – a months-long assault from the north on the adjacent Donbas region comprised of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The state-run TASS news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying it had ordered troops to leave the vicinity and reinforce operations elsewhere in Donetsk.
The head of Russia’s administration in Kharkiv told residents to evacuate the province and flee to Russia to “save lives,” TASS reported. Witnesses described traffic jams of cars with people leaving Russian-held territory.
There is pressure on Kyiv to demonstrate progress before winter sets in, amid threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt all energy shipments to Europe if Brussels goes ahead with a proposal to cap the price of Russian oil exports.
In his nightly video address on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s armed forces had recovered around 2,000 square kilometres (770 square miles) of territory since its counter-offensive was launched earlier this month.