Elizabeth Boyle, Staff
The war in Ukraine ever since Russia invaded in February 2022. Ukraine has asked for and received help from much of the Western world while trying to defend its territory. In the month of September, we have watched Ukraine start to change the tide of the war. President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Ukraine has recaptured 6,000 square kilometers since the start of September.
This past weekend, as part of a broad counter-offensive, Ukraine took back the Kharkiv region from the Russians near the Russian-Ukrainian border. Ukrainian forces took control of the town of Velykyi Burluk, located 65 miles east of the city of Kharkiv, and within 15km of the international border. The US think tank, the Institute of the Study of War (ISW) has stated, “Ukrainian forces have inflicted a major operational defeat on Russia, recapturing almost all Kharkiv oblast in a rapid counter offensive.”
Under the Ukrainian onslaught Russian forces have abandoned their defensive positions and retreated in an undisciplined manner. The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, said, “[the] enemy hastily abandons its positions and flees deep into the previously occupied territories” and that “in some areas of the front, our defenders reached the state border.” Ukrainian Military Intelligence said that the Russians who are retreating have engaged in, “mass looting, loading generators, telephones, and computers taken from Ukrainians on to their cars.” There are reports that schools have robbed and sports equipment stolen from gyms, the GUR (Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center) said.
The Russian response to the Ukrainian territorial gain has included missiles aimed at the nationwide power grid. This has resulted in the Ukrainian people going without power, gas and running water. President Zelensky responded by rhetorically asking the Russians, “Do you still think you can intimidate, break us, force us to make concessions?” he said, “Cold hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not as scary and deadly as your friendship and brotherhood. We will be with gas, lights, water, and food and without you.”
The Allegation of Russia war crimes in Ukraine has persisted since the inception of the Russian invasion. After Ukraine took back Kharkiv, a Ukrainian member of parliament said that on Monday four “corpses with signs of torture” were found in the liberated city.
The US has been closely following tactical developments and consistently sending money and weaponry to support Ukraine since the initiation of hostilities. Last week, the US announced that it would be supplying an additional $2.8 billion in military assistance, e.g., weapons, information system, reconnaissance platforms and ammunition to Ukraine. US leadership is expressing concern about Russians war tactics involving energy. On Sept. 8, President Biden held a meeting with other Western leaders over a video chat. His main message was to stay unified in punishing Russia for trying to weaponize energy. US officials currently believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to wear down the Ukrainian economy and demoralize Western Europe. By turning off the Russian pipeline that runs into Europe, Russia seeks to keep fuel prices rising until Europe waivers in its military and financial support for Ukraine and encourages Ukraine to accept peace on unfavorable terms. One US official stated that Putin’s attempt to strangle the European economy has had the opposite effect on morale by saying, “if anything, we believe Russia’s actions have actually only increased unity among Europeans,” the message that Russia is sending every European is that it is not reliable. So the European animosity towards Russia is just increasing”