Moscow faces pressure at home amid Ukraine losses

STORY: A Russian-installed official in Ukraine's Kharkiv region says Kyiv's forces outnumbered Russian and pro-Russian ones by eight times during a lightning counteroffensive over the weekend.

When Ukrainian forces overran the critical Russian supply hubs of Izium and Kupiansk.

These photographs are said to show abandoned Russian military equipment in the Kharkiv region, though Reuters couldn't verify the location or when they were taken.

Moscow's worst defeat since its forces were driven back from Kyiv has turned the tide in the six-month-old war and stirred anger among some Russian pro-war commentators and nationalists.

In what remains of Russian-held territory in the Kharkiv region, Vitaly Ganchev, the Russian-installed head of Moscow's occupation administration acknowledged Ukraine's troops had broken through to the frontier.

Ganchev has ordered the complete evacuation of civilians from Russian-held parts of the province. He told Russia's state-owned Rossiya-24 television about 5,000 had escaped.

"We've made maximum effort to enable these people to leave as quickly as possible. But I know that Ukrainian formations and Western mercenaries are close to the border of the Russian Federation. The situation is becoming more difficult by the day and by the hour and is escalating."

Ukraine's chief commander has said his troops have retaken more than 1,160 square miles.

Reuters couldn't verify those numbers or the battlefield reports.

In the Kremlin's first response to the reversal, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday Russia would achieve the goals of what it calls a "special military operation".

But nationalists are piling on the pressure.

Like Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, whose troops have been at the forefront in Ukraine.

Posting on the Telegram app, Kadyrov dismissed the loss of Izium and said Russia would recapture what was lost. But he conceded things weren't going to plan.

"We have all the information from the site. And if today or tomorrow, changes are not made in the conduct of the special military operation, I will be forced to go to the country's leadership to explain to them the situation on the ground."

Some are calling for nationwide mobilization. Peskov refused to respond to questions about that demand.

But so far Putin has not resorted to calling up Russia's reserves - about 2 million men with military service within the past five years.

That would be to admit that what he casts as a limited military mission is in fact a full-scale war against a fellow Slav country that is going badly for Russia.

The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War reported that Ukrainian forces are approaching Kherson city, after weeks of artillery bombardment strained Russia's supply lines across the Dnipro river.

Reuters / RURTR / Suspline Kharkiv / Yevhen Kozhyrnov / RAMZAN KADYROV TELEGRAM CHANNEL / REUTERS / / CHECHEN STATE TELERADIOCOMPANY ‘GROZNY’ / / KOZACHA LOPAN, KHARKIV REGION, UKRAINE / TELEGRAM @KUPTG / TWITTER @DefenceU / Press Service of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine