Commander resigns amid investigation into Russian breakthrough in Kharkiv

In late May, investigators from the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) started to look into what occurred during the Russian Federation’s offensive on Kharkiv. They are seeking answers as to how the Russians managed to advance kilometers deep into the Kharkiv region so quickly. By mid-June, it was revealed that the commander of the brigade holding that direction had resigned.

Lieutenant General Artur Gorbenko, Commander of the 125th Territorial Defense Brigade (TRO), formed in Lviv, officially announced his resignation. The military official thanked the soldiers he fought alongside and assured that he remains part of the Defense Forces. Gorbenko's statement was posted on the Facebook page of the 125th TRO Brigade.

The announcement from Gorbenko appeared on the evening of 17 June. The former commander addressed his previously subordinate soldiers with gratitude for "service, trust, and support." He also remembered the fallen and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.

"Today marks the end of more than two years of our joint service in the 125th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade. The war and our resistance against the enemy are not over, and our victory lies ahead; I, therefore, continue my service in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Gorbenko wrote.

In the note signed by Lieutenant General Gorbenko, the reason for his stepping down as commander is not mentioned.

Meanwhile, it had previously been reported about events related to the area of responsibility of the 125th TRO Brigade, which held positions in the Kharkiv region. On May 15, the State Bureau of Investigations reported the initiation of a criminal investigation into the actions of military personnel suspected of inadequately defending positions. The potential penalty for this offense is up to 10 years in prison.

Due to "negligent service," as stated in the ruling of the Leninsky District Court of Kharkiv, the enemy managed to break through the defense line on 10-11 May. It was during this time that the Russian armed forces began their advance, managing to move forward in some sections by distances ranging from 3 to 10 km.

It is alleged that soldiers of the 125th Brigade abandoned their positions independently and did not take military equipment with them. Defense had to be carried out by the second echelon, which managed to stall the Russians, according to investigators' explanations. The number of suspects is known – 28 individuals. Among them are the brigade commander, the operational-tactical group commander, battalion commanders, company commanders, and staff chiefs, according to a report by Glavcom. The names of the suspects were not disclosed by the journalists.

Analysts from DeepState also reported on events in Kharkiv. They spoke with unidentified sources among the fighters of the Kharkiv direction. According to them, commanders ignored intelligence about the buildup of Russian forces near border areas. The brigade took the first hit during the Russians' advance on 10 May but retreated as the enemy forces significantly outnumbered them.

By June 2024, Russian troops were engaged in battles in Hlyboke and had approached the outskirts of Lyptsy, located 20 km north of Kharkiv. Moreover, the Russians entered Vovchansk and penetrated the Aggregate Plant in the city center. On 17 June, it was reported in the media that 400 Russian soldiers were blocked at the plant in Vovchansk.

  War in Ukraine, Vovchansk, Kharkiv