The 200th day of the war, and milestone in more ways than just a number.
First things first; it's officially a rout.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast is routing Russian forces and collapsing Russia’s northern Donbas axis. Russian forces are not conducting a controlled withdrawal and are hurriedly fleeing southeastern Kharkiv Oblast to escape 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; Ukrainian forces reportedly captured Velikiy Burluk on September 10, which would place Ukrainian forces within 15 kilometers of the international border. Ukrainian forces have penetrated Russian lines to a depth of up to 70 kilometers in some places and captured over 3,000 square kilometers of territory in the past five days since September 6 – more territory than Russian forces have captured in all their operations since April.
Russian forces could have tried to hold the eastern portion of Kupyansk, across the Sverski Donets river, as it's a defensible industrial zone, but most were seen fleeing east without any organization at all - like I said, we won't ever see a Russian Azovstal. This also gives the Ukrainians an uncontested crossing over that part of the river east of Kharkiv as well.
- Izyum is on the verge of falling, and may have already fallen. Russian war correspondents and milbloggers have reported facing "challenges" in evacuating from Izyum, confirming Ukrainian forces have at least partially surrounded the city already and Ukrainian soldiers are already putting up pics of them posing by signs outside the city. Some Russian sources are reporting the city has fallen or been abandoned already, but this may be overstatement due to panic. Regardless, Izyum would be the most significant Ukrainian win since the Battle of Kyiv in March.
Ukrainian forces reached the northern outskirts of Izyum on September 10 and will likely recapture the city within the next 48 hours if they have not already. Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian forces have not yet entered Izyum and largely reported that Russian forces are withdrawing from the city. Russian sources reported that the Russian military deployed reinforcements to cover a withdrawal from Izyum to the left bank of the Oskil River. Ukrainian forces’ northern advance has severed Russian forces’ most significant ground lines of communication (GLOCS) to Izyum. Russian forces must now rely on suboptimal paths to the south and southeast that run through difficult terrain and over the Siverskyi Donets and Oskil rivers to withdraw forces.
- Ukrainian forces are also
attacking Russian forces in Lyschansk! The Russians no longer have complete control of even one Ukrainian Oblast (though obviously they still have most of Donetsk... for how long we don't know).
- Russian units on the easternmost front are still dashing themselves to pieces trying to assault the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut (the easternmost city currently still in Ukrainian hands), as they have for weeks and weeks now, with gains of only a few kilometres over that time. Considering the dire state of their defences elsewhere and possibly a collapse on multiple fronts, the reasoning behind continuing these incredibly wasteful and pointless attacks is weaker than it's ever been. I would say "imagine dying for this
.", but it's basically just Wagner guys attacking there, so fuck them.
- Fighting in Kherson is continuing methodically, but Ukrainian forces pushed "tens of kilometres" in some advances. Russian forces continue to fight back down there and still have enough ammunition to carry on for the time being, but their supplies are being continuously blown up, resupply efforts over the Dnipro river have slowed to an absolute crawl, and as many as 25,000-35,000 Russian troops are in danger of being cut off in Kherson region, west of the Dnipro.
- Kremlin propagandists are directly contradicting each other on Russian TV (not, like, on-air fights, just each program is saying different things). The Kremlin itself has been DEAD silent. Main news today was Putin casting his vote online, on Russian election day. There were even fireworks in Moscow. Meanwhile, various opposition groups led calls to write-in "No war" on ballots today. ISW had a bit more info on the overall situation as well:
Prior to the withdrawal announcement, the Russian MoD released footage of Russian military convoys reportedly moving to reinforce the Kharkiv direction on September 9. Many Russian outlets and milbloggers expressed hope that these reinforcements would stabilize the frontline and repel Ukrainian advances on Izyum despite the Russian MoD failing to address the unfolding situation days prior. Russian milbloggers would have likely accepted MoD’s announcement of a withdrawal like they previously did with the Russian retreat from the Snake Island and other tactical Russian losses if the Russian information space was not oversaturated with footage of Ukrainian successes. Such inconsistencies in messaging further support ISW’s assessment that the Russian MoD faces challenges in responding to unexpected developments within the established informational framework, which portrays Russian invasion of Ukraine as an easy and faultless operation. Most importantly, such unaware information practices erode the Russian public’s trust in Russian MoD messaging and disrupt the Kremlin’s propaganda facade.
- Putin convened an emergency meeting with top Russian security and political officials on September 9. Oh to be a fly on the way at that one (assuming that fly can understand Russian). Downfall memes, anyone?
- Speaking of which, links are potentially forming between Russian generals trying to avoid becoming scapegoats, Russian veterans with PTSD, and disgruntled Russian "patriots". This coalition could potentially be the seed of a second Russian Civil War. Russian Telegram channels are certainly full of panic and blame for senior military and political officials, and Russian soldiers are absolutely questioning on a large scale why they should even bother fighting - we could be on the cusp of mass desertions or mutiny in the Russian army. (Best comment I saw in some of those Telegram screenshots: "These assholes are less honest than the Soviet Information Ministry in 1942")
- Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk puppet republic has reportedly fled. There are claims and counter-claims here, so grain of salt. Would be huge if true.
- I think Kadryov's brain sprung a leak.
Ramzan Kadyrov in his late night audio address on Telegram says that “10,000 will enter soon and we will reach Odesa”, while struggling to pronounce “Balakliia”, calling it and other Kharkiv settlements “interesting places”. Says he will be speaking to “Ministry of Defeat if they do not make conclusions soon”.
"Ministry of Defeat" is becoming a Russian (and possibly global) meme.
- Pickled Igor has gone back to colourfully losing his shit over Russian failures. He sardonically suggested transferring Belgorod Oblast of Russia to Ukraine "so that the authorities could say Russia is not being shelled anymore."
- The fucking Wagnerite scum know what's up. Positioning themselves for the coming conflict?
- The United Nations released a report detailing poor Russian treatment of Ukrainian POWs and detained civilians, it goes into some detail which I will avoid repeating ITT for now.
- The Ukrainian General Staff reported that "Russian forces are intensifying air patrols over Babenkivka Druha (22km northwest of the Kherson Oblast-Crimea western border) due to the increasing number of Russian deserters."
- The Ukrainian Military Intelligence agency (GUR) stated that "Russian military commanders are dissatisfied with new recruits operating in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast direction because most of them are 55 to 60 years of age."
- Ukrainian forces "continued efforts to demoralize Russian forces and civilians in occupied Crimea."
Simple, clear thread which looks at overall numbers of forces Ukraine might still bring to bear (tl;dr, several US-sized DIVISIONS have not yet shown up) as well as touching on their ability to move quickly.