UKRAINIAN forces retook parts of Russian-held territory last night after launching a stunning counterattack.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces had retaken 1,150 square miles of the northeastern Kharkiv region.
And Russians ran for their lives as President Vladimir Putin suffered the most humiliating setback yet of his disastrous campaign.
Widespread gains were made after Russian generals were led to believe their enemy was focused on retaking the southern city of Kherson.
They moved thousands of men and arms to the southern front to resist the fake offensive – leaving the door to the Kharkiv region wide open.
Ukrainian special forces spokeswoman Tara Berezovets said: “It was a big special disinformation operation.
“Russia thought it was in the south and moved its equipment.
“Then the offensive took place in the south, where they least expected it, and this caused them to panic and flee.”
Should Ukraine’s success be confirmed, it would mean Mr Zelensky’s forces have tripled their gains in just 24 hours in the region over the past few weeks.
In Saturday’s lightning-fast advance, Ukrainian troops pushed into the key cities of Kupiansk and Izium — which took Russia a month to capture in March.
Fighting continued over settlements around Izium yesterday after more than 30 towns and villages in the Kharkiv region were recaptured.
Cheering civilians were pictured on social media lining the streets to salute their liberators, shouting “thanks boys!”
The scenes played out as battered Russian units retreated past burned-out vehicles bearing the invasion “Z” symbol.
The images also showed troops raising Ukraine’s flag over Kupyansk – a railroad junction on one of Russia’s key eastward supply routes.
Russia’s backlash unleashed unprecedented open attacks on warmonger Putin in Moscow yesterday – with even close allies piling up.
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who has provided thousands of troops for Putin, said: “Mistakes were made.
“If the truth is told to your face, you might not like it. It is clear that people were not prepared for this.”
And pro-war Igor Girkin sarcastically welcomed “the brilliant operation of transferring the cities of Izium, Balakliya and Kupyansk to our respected Ukrainian partners.”
But former British Army commander General Sir Richard Barrons yesterday urged caution.
He said: “Ukrainians saw an opportunity and did a very good job to seize it.
“There will be exuberance and overselling, but Russia still occupies 20 percent of Ukrainian territory.
“The battle for Kherson is what really counts strategically. This will continue for some time to come.”
Prof. Michael Clarke: Bear is on the back foot
THIS is a big moment. For the first time in this conflict, the Russians were defeated in battle.
They are not simply withdrawing, as they did from Kyiv and Kharkiv after realizing that they have overextended themselves.
Here in the Donbass the Russians lost – hard. You collapsed.
The most important thing for the Ukrainians now is to keep up this offensive.
They fight like a modern army. Her message to the West is clear: “We can beat the Russians if they keep supporting us.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6198628/ukraine-regain-kharkiv-territory-russia-triumph/ Ukrainian forces retake parts of Russian-held territory after a stunning counterattack