Ukrainian forces appear to have retaken over 1,000 square miles of territory that Russian forces had captured after invading in February.
On Sunday, the BBC reported that Ukrainian forces said they had repossessed 3,000 square km — about 1,158 square miles — of territory that it had lost to Russian invasion forces earlier this year.
Ukrainian forces had begun to regain miles of territory in a recent offensive, but may have tripled the size of Ukraine’s recaptured territory in just over 48 hours.
On Monday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense tweeted, “It is official: Vysokopillya, Novovoznesenske, Bilohirka, Myrolyubivka and Sukhyj Stavok have been liberated. The occupiers are preparing to ‘regroup’ in the Kherson region as well. As in Kharkiv, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are helping them with this.”
Amid Russia’s rapid loss of territory in Ukraine, reports have begun to circulate of Ukrainian forces calling on Russian troops to surrender.
Photos shared on social media showed surrender cards that Ukrainian troops are reportedly distributing.
One card reads: “Your ticket to peace. Show this card to a Ukrainian soldier – it will save your life and help you get home.” On the back, the card reads “for detailed instructions” with a pair of scannable QR codes, a Telegram chatbot and a phone number that people can contact.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused the retreating Russian forces of striking energy infrastructure in the country’s east and leaving large swathes of territory without power.
“A total blackout in the Kharkiv & Donetsk regions, a partial one in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk & Sumy regions,” Zelensky tweeted. “RF terrorists remain terrorists & attack critical infrastructure. No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat. #RussiaIsATerroristState.”
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russian forces had regrouped in the cities of Balaklia and Izyum before redeploying further east to the separatist-held Donbas region of Ukraine, the Russian state-run TASS news agency reported on Saturday.
Konashenkov also claimed the retreating Russian forces had eliminated more than 2,000 advancing Ukrainian troops and more than 100 pieces of armored equipment and artillery. It remains difficult to confirm Ukraine’s actual combat losses in their offensive or altogether in the fighting since the end of February.
Despite the Russian retreat in Ukraine, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev reiterated Russian demands for Zelensky’s total surrender of Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
Ramzan Kadyrov, a leader of Russian-allied Chechen forces, claimed on Telegram that his forces have a “surprise” waiting for the advancing Ukrainian forces.
“Our fighters have prepared an interesting surprise for the Ukrainian gangs, which will soon become known,” Kadyrov claimed. “In the meantime, I will not reveal the cards.”