Battle lines are redrawn in Ukraine, 200 days after Russia’s invasion

As the war in Ukraine reaches 200 days, Ukrainian forces staging a massive counteroffensive in the eastern region of Kharkiv have taken back large swaths of territory previously under Russian control. Tonight, Russia retaliated by attacking the region’s power grid. Nick Schifrin joins Geoff Bennett from Kharkiv to discuss the implications of these developments.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Geoff Bennett:

    That battle lines in the 200-day-old war in Ukraine are being drastically redrawn. Ukrainian forces are in the midst of a massive counter offensive in the eastern region of Kharkiv. That has been successful in taking back large swaths of territory previously under Russian control.

    And tonight there is a major Russian retaliation. Joining us now from Ukraine to discuss the implications of these major developments is Nick Schifrin from Kharkiv. So Nick, what are these officials there in Kharkiv telling you?

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Police and military officials Geoff here in Kharkiv describe a Russian route. And as you just said Russia tonight has responded in a way that it has not responded yet. In this seven month war it has attacked Ukraine's critical infrastructure the electricity grid.

    Kharkiv, this city that we're in now is in total blackout after Russia bombed a power plant nearby also in blackout the whole region of Kharkiv and the Donbas region that is 250 miles from north to south that has no electricity tonight.

    But all of that came after Ukraine's dramatic gains that it really eroded Russia's ability to hold this critical eastern part of the country. Today, the military and president Zelenskyy announced the liberation of more than half a dozen villages most in the line east and southeast of Kharkiv, as you can see there, that follows the liberation of Kypyansk, a major railway hub that Russia was using for logistics, and Izyum, Russia's most important base that was in Kharkiv, although police officials here say there is still some fighting in some of those cities. In total, the military says it's liberated, at least that huge swath of territory. You can see there in blue that is as much as 1,000 square miles in a matter of days.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    So Nick, why are Ukrainian soldiers having such success?

  • Nick Schifrin:

    One aspect that military officials here as well as independent analysts point to is that Ukraine launched the counter offensives simultaneously in eastern and southern Ukraine. That meant that Russia had to move some of its troops into southern Ukraine to handle that aspect of the war, eroding some of the quality and the numbers of Russian troops that could defend Kharkiv.

    At the same time Russia was trying to make progress south of here in the Donbas further eroding some of the numbers of the Russian troops here in Kharkiv. The Ukrainian progress really does put Russia on the defensive ahead of what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this weekend would be a critical winter.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President (through translator):

    We have 90 days in front of us which will solve more than 30 years of Ukrainian independence. This winter will determine our future.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Ukrainian military official acknowledges that there are some worries about becoming overextended. But Geoff tonight, we see Ukrainian officials attacking south of here.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Meantime, Nick, as you well know Ukraine shut down the sixth and final reactor at that nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which is controlled by Russia and sits at the center of much international concern. Help us understand the significance of that.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    All six reactors of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are under what's called cold shutdown. That means that they are nowhere near the temperature that they usually are when they're actually on and that's something that the U.S. as well as nuclear experts here were calling for because if the plant loses all power coming in, if the plants generators were to fail, the fact that it is under cold shutdown gives everyone a little bit extra time to try and avert a meltdown.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Nick Schifrin reporting for us tonight from Kharkiv Ukraine. Nick, thanks so much.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Thank you.

Listen to this Segment