- Ukraine now on offensive in both south and east
- White House says New U.S. military aid for Ukraine likely
- Northeast Ukrainian forces welcomed with cheers, hugs Residents
In a swift counteroffensive on Wednesday, Ukraine worked to secure territory taken back from occupying Russian forces and reaffirmed its intention to retake all occupied areas, as U.S. President Joe Biden warned that it would be “a long haul.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated on Tuesday night that approximately 8,000 square kilometres (3,100 square miles) have been liberated by Ukrainian forces so far this month, all of which were reportedly in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
Zelenskiy stated that “stabilisation measures” were still being carried out across a liberated area that was roughly the same size after half of that territory had been completed.
The extent of Ukraine’s claimed battlefield victories could not be immediately confirmed by Reuters. Zelenskiy’s total area corresponds roughly to the size of the Greek island of Crete.
When asked if the six-month conflict in Ukraine has reached a turning point, Biden replied that it was difficult to say.
It’s obvious that Ukraine has made significant progress, but I believe it will take a while.
The White House, which has given Ukraine support and weapons worth billions of dollars, has stated that the US is likely to announce a new military aid package in the “coming days.”
According to a U.S. spokesperson, Russian forces have evacuated their defensive positions, particularly in and around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Ukrainian troops have recaptured dozens of towns since Moscow abandoned its main bastion in the northeast on Saturday, marking its worst defeat since the beginning of the war. This is a startling change in the momentum of the battlefield.
Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, claimed that 150,000 people had been freed from Russian rule in the region while speaking in the town’s main square. Balakliia is a vital military supply centre that was captured by Ukrainian forces late last week.
On the highway leading to Balakliia, which is located 74 kilometres (46 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Malyar declared, “The goal is to liberate the Kharkiv region and beyond – all the territories occupied by the Russian Federation.”
Along the road to Balakliia, which was strewn with burned-out vehicles and demolished military equipment, groups of Ukrainian soldiers smoked, smiled, and chatted.
People clamoured for supplies and talked about everything they had been through as the Ukrainian flag was once again flying in the city.
Mariya Tymofiyeva, a 43-year-old local, said with a trembling voice, “I was walking away when I saw an armoured personnel carrier coming onto the square with a Ukrainian flag: my heart just tightened up and I started to cry.”
Oleh Syehubov, the regional governor of Kharkiv, said investigators were attempting to document crimes committed by Russians while they were in the area and locate the bodies of victims.
He explained, “We’re asking everyone nearby about all the places of burial that can be found.
Since Putin gave the order for the invasion on February 24, Moscow denies that its forces have committed atrocities in the areas they have control over.
In the south and east, Russian forces still hold a little more than a fifth of Ukraine, but Kiev is now pushing forward in both regions.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a presidential adviser for Ukraine, hinted at the possibility of advancing on the eastern province of Luhansk, which together with Donetsk makes up the Donbas, a significant industrial area close to the Russian border.
Arestovych stated in a video that was uploaded to YouTube that “there is currently an assault on Lyman and there may be an advance on Siversk.” For the town of Svatovo, where he claimed the Russians have storage depots, he foresaw a battle.
“And that is what they fear most,” he added, referring to the twin cities that Russia captured in June and July after fierce fighting. “That we take Lyman and then advance on Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.”
Lyman is still in the control of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, according to Denis Pushilin, its leader. The enemy is attempting to advance in small groups, but (Russian-led) Allied forces are completely repelling them. The situation has stabilised.
In the meantime, after Russian shelling caused blackouts, repair workers have restored the two main power lines supplying Kharkiv city and its surroundings, according to power company Ukrenergo.
As winter approaches, Kiev worries that Moscow will intensify its attacks on its energy networks and is pleading with the West for anti-aircraft technology to safeguard the infrastructure.