- Moscow-based official says Ukraine is progressing ‘very strong and fast’
- Advance could close Russian supply lines – military analysts
KYIV, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces were capturing an expanding area of territory previously controlled by Russia to the east in a “very sharp and rapid advance”, an official said on Friday. regional installed by Russia, in a breakthrough that could mark a turning point in the war.
After being silent for a day, Russia has indeed admitted that part of its front line has collapsed southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
“The enemy is delayed as much as possible, but several settlements have already come under the control of Ukrainian armed formations,” Vitaly Ganchev, head of the Russian-backed administration in the Kharkiv region, said on the daily livestream of state television host Vladimir Soloviev. . Read more
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Ganchev said earlier that his administration was trying to evacuate civilians from towns like Izium, Russia’s main stronghold and logistics base in the province near the frontline in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has taken control of around a fifth of Ukraine since its invasion began in late February.
The Russian Defense Ministry released video of military vehicles speeding down a highway, saying they showed reinforcements rushing to defend the area. The Kremlin declined to comment on the Ukrainian advance.
Ukrainian officials released a parade of videos showing soldiers raising flags and posing in front of road signs in villages and towns in part of territory previously controlled by Russia.
A viral image showed soldiers waving a Ukrainian flag at a highway welcome sign for Kupyansk, previously more than 50km inside the Russian front line. The city is an important target as the junction of several of the main railway lines supplying Russian troops at the front.
Ukraine kept independent journalists away from the area and Reuters could not confirm the footage, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said troops had ‘liberated dozens of settlements’ and recovered more than 1,000 square kilometers (385 square miles) in the eastern Kharkiv and southern Kherson regions.
Western military analysts said the advance could shut down the supply lines Moscow has relied on to maintain its strength in eastern Ukraine, and potentially leave thousands of Russian troops surrounded. Read more
Such rapid advances have been largely unheard of since Russia abandoned its assault on the capital Kyiv in March, turning the war mostly into a relentless fight along entrenched front lines.
“We’re seeing success in Kherson now, we’re seeing some success in Kharkiv and so that’s very, very encouraging,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a news conference with his Czech counterpart in Prague. .
The Ukrainian General Staff said on Friday morning that retreating Russian forces were trying to evacuate wounded and damaged military equipment near Kharkiv.
“Thanks to skilful and coordinated actions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with the support of the local population, advanced almost 50 km in three days.”
Tens of thousands have been killed, millions driven from their homes and Russian forces have destroyed entire towns since Moscow launched what it calls a ‘special military operation’ to ‘disarm’ Ukraine . The Kyiv government and its Western allies accuse Russia of an imperial-style war of aggression.
In the latest reported strike against civilians, Ukrainian officials said Russia fired from across the border, hitting a hospital in the northeast region of Sumy on Friday morning, destroying the building and injuring people . Reuters could not independently confirm the report.
Russia denies intentionally targeting civilians.
Central Kharkiv, regularly bombarded by Russia, was hit by Russian rocket fire, injuring 10 people, including three children, Governor Oleh Synehubov said. Rockets hit a children’s arts center and a school, as well as private homes, Mayor Ihor Terekhov wrote on Telegram.
The Ukrainians broke through to the east a week after Kyiv announced the start of a long-awaited counter-offensive hundreds of kilometers across the front line in the southern province of Kherson.
Ukrainian officials said Russia had moved thousands of troops south to respond to the advance from Kherson, leaving other parts of the front line exposed.
“We found a weak point where the enemy was not ready,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube.
Russian state news agency RIA quoted Russian authorities in Kherson as saying Ukrainian soldiers were captured in the counterattack and some Polish tanks they were using were destroyed. Reuters could not verify this information.
So far, less information has emerged about the campaign in the south, with Ukraine shooing away reporters and revealing few details.
Ukraine is using new Western-supplied artillery and rockets to strike Russian rear positions, aiming to trap thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the wide Dnipro River.
Arestovych acknowledged that progress in the south had not yet been as rapid as in the east.
Separately, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday that the shelling had destroyed the electricity infrastructure of the town of Enerhodar, in southern Ukraine, where the personnel operating the Russian nuclear power plant live. Zaporizhzhia, which poses a growing threat to the power plant. Read more
Offsite power lines to the plant, vital lines of defense against possible nuclear meltdown, have already been cut and the Enerhodar bombing caused a lasting blackout there.
“It is an unsustainable situation and one that is becoming more and more precarious. Enerhodar has gone black. The power station has no off-site electricity. And we have seen that once the infrastructure is fixed, it is damaged again,” said the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi. in a report.
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Reporting by Reuters journalists; Written by Peter Graff and Hugh Lawson; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Grant McCool
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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