The liberation forces are advancing in different parts of Ukraine: In the south, the Ukrainian military is pushing ever further towards the Dnipro dam near the town of Nowa Kakhovka.

There are also reports of successes in the east: On Wednesday, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj, reported that several settlements in the area, which until recently was entirely under Russian control, had been liberated.

Pictures were circulated on social media showing Ukrainian soldiers in front of the entrance sign to the village of Grekivka in western Luhansk region.

Frederick Smith

Political correspondent for Russia and the CIS in Moscow.

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Nicholas Zimmerman

Editor in Politics.

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The Institute for the Study of War, an American think tank, and the British Ministry of Defense also write that Ukrainian forces are advancing east of the Oskil River towards the Luhansk Oblast.

Their goal is apparently to cut off supplies to the town of Swatowe.

The expressway between Svatove and Kremnina is most likely within range of Ukrainian artillery.

It is considered a critical line of communication for supplying the invading army.

Indirectly, even the Russian Defense Ministry admits that the initiative in President Vladimir Putin's "special operation" currently belongs to the enemy: the maps it uses to accompany its daily briefings tell of Russian withdrawals in northeastern, eastern and southern Ukraine.

"Certain areas" would be "retrieved"

Nevertheless, Moscow continues to work through its annexation scenario.

According to official sources, on Wednesday Putin signed documents on the "joining" of further regions to Russia, namely a "constitutional law" and a "ratification law for the formation of a new subject" for each of the "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia.

The tortuous, contradictory wording of the documents leaves it unclear where the boundaries of the “new subjects” lie for Moscow.

Neither area fully controls Moscow.

The fact that the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are fully claimed follows from many statements made by political representatives.

Contradictory statements have been made about the southern Ukrainian regions.

Putin's spokesman scrambled to reply on Monday, but the chairman of the Duma's state-building and legislation committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov, said the same day at the special session of the lower house on the annexations that the Zaporizhia region would be "included in the (Ukrainian) administrative borders “.

Krasheninnikov added to the “borders” of the Cherson region two more districts of the neighboring southern Ukrainian region of Mykolayiv, which are occupied by the Russians.

On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied to the repeated question about the "borders" of the southern "new subjects" by saying that it was "the territory on which the military-civilian administration was active at the time of its inclusion in the Russian Federation".

That's what Moscow calls its occupation bodies.

The wording would only speak for the inclusion of the actually controlled areas - but at the same time Peskov said that "certain areas" would be "taken back and we will continue to consult with the population who expresses a desire to live with Russia".

Ministry of Defense is under criticism

He was also asked how statements that the "new regions" would "be part of Russia forever" fit with the current Russian withdrawal.

"There is no contradiction," said Peskow.

"They will be with Russia forever, they will be brought back." Putin merely said on Wednesday that it was assumed that the situation in the "new territories" would now "stabilize".

Setbacks in the Donetsk region had led to criticism of the Russian military over the weekend, particularly from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

He reported on Wednesday, his 46th birthday, that Putin had awarded him the rank of colonel general.

"Vladimir Vladimirovich personally informed me about this and congratulated me," Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.

The decree to which he referred was not initially published;

It is probably about the National Guard, in which the ruler of Grozny formally serves and of which he is said to have been lieutenant general, a slightly lower rank, since the end of March.

Kadyrov himself did not clarify from which armed force his new title came.

He should be concerned about backing in the struggle with the Ministry of Defense.

This is increasingly becoming the scapegoat for the failures: In the propaganda format "Solowjow Live", the head of the Duma Defense Committee, Andrei Kartapolov, criticized the General Staff's lack of reconnaissance of enemy positions and, with a view to equipment deficiencies that are now becoming apparent in the mobilization, the military prosecutor's office and the military counterintelligence would have to "work" and "name at least some of those who will be held accountable".