As Russian forces retreat with their wounded in some occupied areas of Ukraine, Ukrainian Armed Forces declared on Friday that it had liberated dozens of towns in the east that had been captured by the invaders.
President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, uploaded a video to his Telegram channel in which Ukrainian troops claimed to have taken the eastern town of Balakliia, close to Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.
Zelenskiy said in a video message that soldiers had “liberated dozens of settlements” and recaptured more than 1,000 square kilometres (385 square miles) of land in the Kharkiv region in the east and Kherson in the south in the previous week.
Additionally, a video that was uploaded to a Ukrainian news aggregator seemed to demonstrate that the Russians had abandoned trucks, artillery, and ammunition.
According to Ukrainian military officials, Moscow has been attempting to evacuate wounded soldiers from Borodoyarske in the southeast and Vilkhuvatka, a village southwest of Kharkiv.
After launching an attack that appeared to catch the Russians off guard, the Ukrainian military claimed to have advanced nearly 50 km through that front.
It was the first sudden advance of this kind that either side had reported in months. Since Russia abandoned its catastrophic assault on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in March, the war has mainly been characterised by nonstop, pressing frontline fighting.
The unexpected Ukrainian victory in the east came a week after Kyiv declared the beginning of a long-awaited counteroffensive hundreds of kilometres away at the other end of the front line, in Kherson province in the south.
In response to the Kherson advance, according to Ukrainian officials, Russia moved thousands of troops south, leaving other areas of the front line exposed and giving the opportunity for the eastward lightning attack.
Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych stated in a video posted on YouTube, “We found a weak spot where the enemy wasn’t ready.”
Moscow had not made any public comments as of nearly 24 hours after Ukraine announced the victory in the Kharkiv front. On Friday, the Russian government declined to comment and directed inquiries to the Russian military.
While Russia has reportedly suffered a significant number of casualties, the territorial gain will significantly boost Ukrainian team spirit.
Independent journalists attempting to confirm the scope of Ukraine’s advancements have not been permitted entry. However, images posted on Ukrainian news websites depict both Russian forces surrendering on the side of the road and troops cheering from armoured vehicles as they speed past street signs bearing the names of previously Russian-occupied towns.
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