From Jamie Peipon (Day 200):More breaking news this morning, this time in southern Ukraine. From a source with connections in Ukrainian government: a large number of Russian soldiers in the Kherson region are negotiating a surrender to their Ukrainian counterparts which would include all their vehicles, tanks, etc. This is not coming from Moscow, just from the soldiers who are in Kherson. It is believed that there are up to 15,000 Russian soldiers in the area, but it is not clear how many of them would be involved in the surrender. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have worked hard to cut them off from supply lines over the past several weeks so, if they are indeed running out of supplies, it is not surprising that they would be looking to surrender. What other option is there when you run out of ammo and you didn’t have much will to fight anyway?
While I am confident that this information is trustworthy, it is important to note that it is not yet finalized so things could still change. For that reason, it is probably not worth speculating too much about what exactly such a surrender would mean. Suffice it to say that losing the only large city that they’ve occupied since the start of the full-scale invasion would be a big deal. It would also have major implications for morale (which is already low) and could start a snowball among others.
I’ve also heard that there are even more soon-to-be-announced breakthroughs to come. Donetsk (a city in the east that has been occupied by Russia for 8 long years) seems to be a likely candidate.
As of last night, Ukraine officially and decisively won the battle of Kharkiv. They’ve completely driven Russia back to their own land in the north and have pushed them out of the entire Kharkiv oblast. Russian officials are still saying that it was a planned and organized “regrouping” of their soldiers. Everyone else is saying that they’re seeing Russian soldiers dropping their weapons and running. Some reports say that some are changing into civilian clothes in an attempt to escape. Video after video is coming out showing abandoned Russian tanks and other vehicles that do not appear damaged. Russia has now almost certainly “donated” more tanks, armored vehicles, and ammunition to Ukraine than any other country in the world.
In response to the Kharkiv rout, Russia has turned on critical civilian infrastructure. Yesterday and this morning they fired missiles at power plants. As I type, the second-largest city in Ukraine, is entirely without electricity and water. Of course, this makes the situation in Kharkiv extremely perilous and there is no word yet about how quickly the infrastructure can be restored.
Back in Russia, the Moscow Times is reporting what happened in Kharkiv as a “collapse” rather than as a “regrouping.” They’re also reporting that Putin has canceled meetings with his generals and that he has now withdrawn to his mansion in Sochi. Meanwhile, at least 18 Russian politicians in Moscow and St. Pete have signed on to a request for Putin’s resignation. The reason they give is that Putin’s actions “bring harm to Russia and her future.”
One of Russia’s most obnoxious media personalities has called for the execution by firing squad of the commanders responsible for the Kharkiv collapse. Even Russian social media is out of control and the Russian ministry of defense has deactivated commenting on its official pages. Meanwhile, Ukraine is organized and focus. Zelenskyy addressed the nation yesterday as he does almost every day. At the end of the address, he spoke directly to his soldiers:
“Today, everyone has seen and taken note of our warriors’ actions in the north, south and east of Ukraine. The world is impressed. The enemy is panicking. Ukraine is proud of you, believes in you, prays for you, and is waiting for you.
The path to victory is difficult, but we are sure of this: you can do it. You will reach our borders in all of our regions. You will see our frontiers and the backs of our enemies. You will see the shining of our people and the heels of the occupiers. They’ll call it a ‘goodwill gesture.’ We’ll call it ‘victory.’”
“I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.”