The Russian-installed head of the Kupiansk city administration, Vitaly Ganchev, has called on women and children to evacuate the city as Ukrainian forces approach.
"Today, such a situation is developing in Kupiansk that we are forced to ensure the evacuation of the population, at least children, women, due to the fact that the city is constantly under terror, constant rocket attacks from the armed forces of Ukraine, which do not (desist from) attempts to destroy infrastructure of the city,” Ganchev said in a video posted on the city administration’s Telegram channel on Thursday.
“It’s not only about Kupiansk, it’s about almost the entire Kupiansk district, the Izium district. They caused very serious material and moral damage to our population,” he added.
Ukrainian officials have declined to comment on the offensive in the northeast of Ukraine, but footage geo-located by CNN showed Ukrainian forces in the town of Volokhiv-Yar on Wednesday, around 50 kilometers (36 miles) away from Kupiansk, and also on the outskirts of Balakliya to the south. Russian officials have also remained silent on developments in the Kharkiv region.
Russian military bloggers and analysts believe the Ukrainian push towards Kupiansk aims to cut off supply lines to the strategic city of Izium to the south.
The Institute for the Study of War said Ukraine’s push in the east is the result of Kyiv taking advantage of Russian redeployments to the south, to stop a Ukrainian counter offensive in the Kherson region.
“Ukrainian forces likely used tactical surprise to advance at least 20 kilometers (12 miles) into Russian-held territory in eastern Kharkiv Oblast on September 7, recapturing approximately 400 square kilometers of ground,” the institute said in its daily report on the war on Wednesday.
“Ukrainian forces likely took prudent advantage of a reallocation of Russian troops, equipment, and overall operational focus to launch localized counteroffensives toward critical points in Kharkiv Oblast.”