A billboard on the major entrance to town of Kupiansk illustrates the tenuous nature of Ukrainian management in a area that has turn into probably the most energetic elements of the 750-mile entrance line in the battle.
“Kupiansk is Ukraine!!!” it proclaims to anybody getting into town. The opposite facet of the signal, seen to these within the metropolis heart, hints at why the primary proclamation is so pressing. It exhibits an armed soldier standing in entrance of a helicopter, together with a telephone quantity and a query: “Do you may have details about traitors to Ukraine?”
On the outset of the battle, Kupiansk, solely 25 miles from the Russian border, fell to Moscow’s forces with out a combat and remained below occupation for six months earlier than being retaken in a lightning Ukrainian thrust within the Kharkiv area within the nation’s northeast in September.
Now, nevertheless, whereas most consideration is targeted on the most recent Ukrainian counteroffensive a whole lot of miles to the south, Russian forces are mounting an offensive within the north, searching for to regain these lands. Kupiansk, a strategically vital metropolis that served as a logistical heart for the Russian navy, is true within the cross hairs, and lots of residents say they dread the return of the forces who terrorized them for six months.
“Nobody can survive a second occupation,” mentioned Liudmila Sezonova, who runs a honey wholesale enterprise and mentioned she stayed dwelling for months all through the occupation, hoping that she wouldn’t be penalized by the Russians for being a Ukrainian patriot.