Ukrainian forces have taken down Russian troops’ stronghold in Izium, the city’s mayor has announced. TASS, a Russian News Agency, also reported the news, saying that “a decision was made to regroup Russian troops” from the Izium area to “build up efforts in the Donetsk region” instead.
The city’s mayor, Valeriy Marchenko, has been in contact with police and emergency services to clear any hazards so that residents may return. “Izium was liberated today,” Marchenko told the New York Times.
Russia’s forces sieged Izium nearly six months ago, and now the country has confirmed that all forces have now been pulled from the northeastern Ukrainian city. The new Ukrainian stronghold marks more rapid expansion into the northeast, a foray into the beginning of a new phase in the ongoing war.
But Russia’s Ministry of Defense is staging this loss as a preplanned move, claiming that they pulled out to strengthen their forces in the eastern area of Ukraine. Izium, a key railway spot that was seized by Russia back in March, is an incredibly important turning point in the war. It’s currently unclear whether or not Russia will return to the northeastern hub to regain control at a later date.
The Russian Federation published a video of the transfer of troops now heading in the direction of Kharkov. "In order to prevent damage to Russian troops, a powerful fire defeat was inflicted on the enemy using aviation, missile troops and artillery," Russian Defense Ministry, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov added.
The Russian army began showing signs of withdrawal on Friday night. “Yesterday evening, Russians put a white flag nearby the railway station,” Yevhen, a Ukrainian officer, told the New York Times. “There was street fighting all over the night.”
Russia’s loss in Izium, paired with their massive failure to take control of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, makes for a chief, much-needed win for the Ukrainian army. Still, Ukrainians fear for the bitter cold winter months of the war that lie ahead.