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Russian forces appear to be in disarray as Ukraine expands, consolidates lighting gains in Kharkiv

Russian forces routed in a Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharvik province over the past week are fleeing to Russia or surrendering, Ukrainian military officials said Monday, and Russia is reportedly hesitating to send in newly trained reinforcements. The surrendering Russians "understand the hopelessness of their situation," Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andrey Yusov tells The Associated Press, adding that the new Russian POWs include "significant" numbers of officers.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said so many Russians are surrendering, Ukraine is running out of space to accommodate them. He said the POWs will be exchanged for captured Ukrainian service members. "Reports of chaos abounded" among the Russians who fled, leaving stocks of munitions behind, AP reports.

Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, expanded their gains, claiming more than 20 recaptured settlements since Sunday, though "the advance slowed Monday, as Ukrainians began to consolidate control and look for collaborators and pockets of Russian troops left behind," The Wall Street Journal reports. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday night that Ukrainian forces have liberated more than 2,300 square miles in the east and south since the beginning of September. 

Ukraine's lighting gains in the northeast were made possible in part by Russia's decision to redeploy its northeastern forces to defend Kherson in the south, where Ukraine had been publicly promising a big counteroffensive. But "Ukraine's southern counteroffensive is continuing to have significant impacts on Russian morale and military capabilities," ISW writes. Russian forces outside Kherson City appear to be pulling back and, according to Ukraine's southern command, some units are trying to negotiate their surrender.

Ukraine's military general staff says Russia's military command "has suspended sending new, already-formed units to Ukraine due to recent Russian losses and widespread distrust of the Russian military command, factors which have caused a large number of volunteers to categorically refuse to participate in combat," ISW reports. And while "this assessment is still unconfirmed," morale is low among Russian troops and that "may prove devastating to the Kremlin's already poor ability to generate meaningful combat capability."

"The Russians are in trouble," a U.S. official told The Washington Post. "The question will be how the Russians will react, but their weaknesses have been exposed and they don't have great manpower reserves or equipment reserves."