Saturday’s rapid advance did not end with Izium, as Ukraine appeared to have opened a new front against Russian defenses on the border of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The head of the regional military administration for Luhansk, Serhiy Hayday, indicated the city of Lysychansk was the target of the new offensive.
Lysychansk was the last city in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine to fall under Russian control in July, after weeks of intense fighting. Hayday told CNN on Saturday “the occupiers, including both the collaborators and the military, are running away in a hurry.”
“Locals have videos and photos proving that,” Hayday said. He said the visual evidence could not be shared for security reasons.
“Those from Svatove, Starobilsk, Novopskov are trying to leave, not to Luhansk, but to the border with Russia at Milove,” he added.
CNN is unable to verify Hayday’s claim, but at least one border crossing into Russia has seen lines of vehicles forming.
Hayday also told CNN that the Russians had failed to build a defensive line in Luhansk. “Svatove, Starobilsk — this is an open rural countryside, so there’s nowhere to hide.”
He claimed Russian forces were leaving the town of Svatove. If true, it would be significant as Svatove is a key link in Russian supply lines to parts of occupied Luhansk region.
In another sign of Ukrainian advances, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, admitted that the situation in northern Donetsk had become “pretty tough.”
Pushilin said on his Telegram channel that in the town of Lyman, not far from the Ukrainian-held city of Sloviansk, that “the situation is pretty tough, just like in a number of settlements in the North of the Republic.”
“However, I’m in touch with the local administrations, with emergency services and with our units. There is more information but I can not reveal it for now, as it might harm our units,” he said.