Ukraine aspires to liberate all lands occupied by Russia after days of military successes
- Ukraine goes on the offensive in the south and east
- New US military aid to Ukraine likely, White House says
- Called, Scholz urges Putin to quickly find a diplomatic solution
BALAKLIIA, Ukraine, September 13 (Reuters) – Ukraine is aiming to liberate all of the territory occupied by invading Russian forces after pushing them back in a swift counteroffensive in the northeast and there are indications that more US military aid is on its way to support the Ukraine mission.
In an evening address, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said around 8,000 km2 (3,100 sq mi) had been liberated so far, apparently all in the northeast Kharkiv region.
“Stabilisation measures” have been completed in about half of this territory, Zelenskiy said, “and in a liberated area of about the same size, stabilization measures are still ongoing.”
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Reuters was unable to immediately verify the extent of the battlefield successes claimed by Ukraine. The total area cited by Zelenskiy is roughly the size of the Greek island of Crete.
Since Moscow abandoned its main stronghold in the northeast on Saturday, marking its worst defeat since the early days of the war, Ukrainian troops have retaken dozens of towns in a stunning change in the momentum of the battlefield.
In Washington, the White House said the United States would likely announce a new military aid package for Ukraine in the “coming days”. Russian forces moved out of defensive positions, particularly in and around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, a US spokesman said.
Russian forces still control about a fifth of Ukraine in the south and east, but Kyiv is now on the offensive in both areas.
Speaking in the central square of Balakliia, a crucial military supply hub captured by Ukrainian forces late last week, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said 150,000 people had been liberated from Russian domination in the region.
Ukrainian flags had been hoisted and a large crowd had gathered to receive humanitarian aid packages. A shopping center was destroyed but many buildings remained intact, with shops closed and barricaded.
“The goal is to liberate the Kharkiv region and beyond – all territories occupied by the Russian Federation,” Malyar said on the road to Balakliia, located 74 km (46 miles) southeast of Kharkiv .
Meanwhile, repair crews restored the two main power lines supplying the city of Kharkiv and its surroundings, electricity company Ukrenergo said after Russian shelling caused blackouts.
The government in Kyiv fears that Russia will step up its attacks on its energy networks as winter approaches and is advocating for anti-aircraft technology from the West to protect infrastructure. Read more
With Russian forces under pressure, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Scholz called on Putin to find a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, based on a ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, a spokesman said. word of the German government. Read more
In Verbivka, a village northwest of Balakliia, Nadia Khvostok, 76, described the traumatic occupation and the arrival of Ukrainian troops, saying residents welcomed them “with tears in their eyes”.
“We couldn’t have been happier. My grandchildren spent two and a half months in the basement. When the corner of the house was ripped out, the children started shaking and stuttering,” he said. she declared, adding that they and her daughter were gone. – she didn’t know where.
The village school, where the Russians were based, was destroyed and trees on the village road and a cement factory showed battle scars. Elsewhere were abandoned Russian vehicles, including a military truck with a shattered windshield.
Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Syehubov, who came to Verbivka, said authorities were trying to record the crimes committed by the Russians during their occupation of the region and recover the bodies of the victims.
“We ask everyone around us for any burial sites that can be found,” he said.
Moscow denies that its forces have committed atrocities in areas they have controlled since Putin ordered the February 24 invasion.
The Ukrainian army on Tuesday accused the retreating Russian soldiers of stealing at least 300 private cars loaded with looted goods during their escape. The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
During the day, Ukrainian forces repelled enemy attacks in six towns and settlements north of Donetsk, the General Staff said, but made no mention of captured territory.
The Ukrainian advance could soon expand into Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, where Russia has been concentrating forces for months to expand territory held by separatists since 2014.
Ukrainian Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said troops had already retaken the town of Lyman from Donetsk. He identified Svatove in Luhansk further east as the likely next battle front. Reuters could not verify the information.
Video from the Ukrainian Border Guard Service showed what it said were Ukrainian troops liberating the town of Vovchansk near the Russian border, burning flags and tearing down a poster saying ‘We are one with Russia “.
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Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Olzhas Auyezov, Aleksandar Vasovic, Miranda Murray and other Reuters reporters; Written by Philippa Fletcher, Peter Graff and William Maclean; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Grant McCool and Rosalba O’Brien
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