[guest post by Dana]
While Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov didn’t say it out loud, the maps did:
Russian defence ministry maps presented on Tuesday appeared to show rapid withdrawals of Russian invasion forces from areas in eastern and southern Ukraine where they have been under severe pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The ministry’s daily video briefing made no mention of any pullbacks, but on maps used to show the location of purported Russian strikes, the shaded area designating Russian military control was much smaller than the day before.
In northeast Ukraine, where Russia suffered a rout last month, its forces along a frontline running some 70 km southward from Kupiansk along the River Oskil appeared to have retreated some 20 km to the east, as far as the border of Luhansk province.
This would mean they had vacated the last remnants of Ukraine’s Kharkiv province – where Russia for several months maintained an occupation administration – but for a small patch between the town of Dvorichna and the Russian border.
In southern Ukraine’s Kherson province, Russia’s line of control on the right bank of the Dnipro river had shifted 25 km southward on the map, to a line running westward from the riverside town of Dudchany.
Both areas are battlefields where Ukraine has been reporting advances, albeit without giving full details.
Certainly to President Putin’s chagrin, Russian media is not sugar-coating the humiliation of Russia on the battlefield:
“I’ve been told that I make people depressed with my news,” Alexander Kots from the pro-government tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote on Telegram. “Allegedly people need something positive. There won’t be any good news any time soon, the timing is wrong. Not from the Kherson frontline, not from the Luhansk one as it happens.”
Ukraine “is introducing well-prepared reserves, realizing its advantage in both personnel and intelligence data,” he said Tuesday, adding that Russia’s so-called “special military operation,” meanwhile, is undergoing an “operational crisis.”
This isn’t the first media correspondent in Russia to push back against the narrative that the Kremlin is pushing, so we know it’s significant. And speaking of correspondents pushing back against the powers-that-be, remember the reporter who took a dramatic stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and while on state-controlled television, held up a sign that read “NO WAR”? Well, as a result, she was placed under house arrest in August. But according to reports, she has escaped and is currently on the run (note that the source is TASS, so…):
She had been charged with disseminating false information about the Russian military after participating in a protest in July, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS. Her detention was supposed to last until Sunday.
Ovsyannikova’s ex-husband said that she had escaped house arrest with her daughter on Saturday, TASS reported. Her lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, said he could not confirm those allegations…
Ovsyannikova has been added to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs’ “wanted list,” TASS reported on Monday.
And while Russia is praising Elon Musk’s inflammatory Twitter poll, in which “he asked followers on whether, and which, parts of Ukrainian territory should be formally handed to Russia,” Zelensky tweeted out his own poll:
Which @elonmusk do you like more?
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 3, 2022
Ukraine’s outgoing ambassador to Germany was much more direct and simply told Musk to “fuck off,” adding that this was his very “diplomatic reply” to Musk.
[Ed. Honestly, it was a bit confusing seeing Musk’s poll, given that he was happy to provide Ukraine the indispensable Starlink system so quickly after Zelensky requested it. I’m guessing that this was just another bid for attention from the billionaire who wants for nothing…After all, it’s Twitter...]
Yesterday, President Biden spoke to President Zelensky and announced a $625 million security assistance package to Ukraine.
The president also reaffirmed U.S. support of Ukraine, saying that we “will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Ukrainian territory.”
During the conversation with Zelensky, Biden also affirmed the U.S.’s “continued readiness” to impose sanctions on any entity that supports Russia’s annexation, and welcomed an agreement that allowed the safe export of grain from Ukraine, the White House said.