Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly sacked a top-ranking general just 16 days after appointing him following his crushing defeat in eastern Ukraine.
Lieutenant General Roman Berdnikov is said to have been relieved of his duties over the failure of Kremlin troops to keep hold of Ukrainian territory over the last few days.
A counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces has seen troops push to within 30 miles of the border, amid reports panicked Russian troops have been abandoning tanks, weapons, and supplies.
There have been claims from some sources that Russian soldiers have ‘literally run from their positions’, even leaving behind their clothes as they run away from the advancing Ukrainian army in the Kharkiv oblast in the northeast of the country.
This comes as Ukrainian soldiers surge into the east of the country in an effort that has seen them take more than 1,000 square miles of territory in just few days.
According to the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Lt General Berdnikov was appointed as commander of the Western Armed Forces on August 26, 2022.
His time in charge was short-lived, with Ukrainian intelligence saying he has been sacked by Putin due to the rout in Kharkiv.
This came after unconfirmed reports back in June that he had been killed during fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
The source told the Telegraph that many had changed into civilian clothes to avoid being spotted by Ukrainian troops and have left behind a ‘huge amount of vehicles and ammunition’.
He said: ‘They were really afraid, their chain of command was in chaos. Officers left the area before the fighting began.
‘There were a lot of uniforms lying around. We caught some of these guys trying to escape in civilian clothes, they were telling some incredible bull***t trying to save themselves.’
In an attempt to hit back, Russia last night struck at Ukrainian infrastructure in what president Volodymyr Zelensky said was an attack to ‘deprive people of light and heat’.
Missiles strikes knocked out power and water to much of Kharkiv city, with blackouts in Bnipro, Poltava and other eastern cities potentially affecting millions of people.
This prompted President Zelensky to brand Russia a ‘terrorist state’ and he launched into a fiery speech railing against the Kremlin.
He said: ‘Do you still think we are one people? Do you still think you can scare us, break us, force us to make concessions? Don’t you really get it? Don’t you understand who we are? What we stand for? What we are all about?
‘Read my lips: Without gas or without you? Without you. Without light or without you? Without you. Without water or without you? Without you. Without food or without you? Without you.
‘Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst are not as frightening and deadly for us as your friendship and brotherhood. But history will put everything in its place. And we will be with gas, light, water and food… and without you!’
In a tweet President Zelensky he added: ‘A total blackout in the Kharkiv & Donetsk regions, a partial one in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk & Sumy regions.
‘RF terrorists remain terrorists & attack critical infrastructure. No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat. #RussiaIsATerroristState’