The Russian invaders, who were in Balakleya, Kharkiv region, already at the end of July knew about the plans of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to launch a counteroffensive. This is evidenced by the many documents of the Russian military, which were found by Reuters journalists.
Among the documents examined by the journalists is an unknown officer's notebook containing notes on the situation at the front and inside the units, records of commanders' calls, as well as the coordinates of Russian units .
The documents say that the commander of the Russian troops in Balakliya was Colonel Ivan Popov from the 11th Army Corps of the Baltic Fleet, a participant in the wars in Chechnya and Georgia. The command center of the occupiers was located in a former car repair shop. In the basement where the journalists found the documents, daily meetings were held between the commanders of different units.
Another serviceman mentioned in the documents is the military commandant of Balakleya V. Granit. He was in charge of at least one of the places where detained local residents were interrogated, subjected to beatings, torture and sexualized violence. Relatives of the detainees asked Granit to release their relatives, but to no avail.
The notebook of an unknown officer mentions «the first serious challenge» for occupiers — the offensive of the AFU fighters on the village of Grakovo on July 19, which is located north of Balakleya. On that day, seven people died in the ranks of the Russians, 39 — were injured and 17 others — gone missing.
A few days later, the Russians received information from the FSB that Ukraine had delivered three HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems to the area, as well as the location of a command post and four warehouses. Already on July 24, in the notebook of the occupying colonel, entries appeared about the first 12 Russians who died as a result of an American MLRS strike.
The publication notes that this situation began to greatly reduce the morale and discipline of Russian soldiers. It even went so far that one of the commanders of the detachment decided to retreat with his subordinates after an unknown officer called him a «bastard».
A document dated August 30 shows that in one of there were 49 battalions instead of 240, and one of the reservist brigades was only 23% complete. This situation arose against the background of constant shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which «continued throughout August».
The Ukrainian counter-offensive began on September 6th. Eyewitnesses told Reuters that the retreat of the Russians and those mobilized from the Luhansk region can be described as «chaos» — the wounded left Balakleya on foot, and the servicemen fled, leaving equipment and weapons.