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Zelenskyy champions ‘good news’ from Kharkiv as forces retake villages from Russia troops

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Sep 8, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy championed “good news” from Kharkiv after his forces made gains in the northern region this week.

Zelenskyy said in his overnight address, “This week we have good news from the Kharkiv region.”

“I think every citizen feels proud of our warriors. It is a well-deserved pride,” he added. 

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Zelenskyy would not go into detail on which villages Ukrainian forces have recaptured, but on Wednesday, social media posts surfaced suggesting the occupied town of Balakliya had been encircled and possibly retaken.

Former Russian military leader and a propagandist, Igor Girkin, alias Igor Strelkov, took to Telegram Wednesday to say the city in southern Kharkiv had been encircled by Ukrainian troops.

“The enemy yesterday launched an offensive that they had been preparing for a long time (judging by the transfer of reserves), inflicting the main blow in the area of the city of Balakliya,” Grikin said according to reports. 

Neither the Ukrainian armed forces, nor the government, announced the counter-offensive that began near Balakliya on Tuesday and officials have remained tight-lipped about its progression or objective.

The Institute for the Study of War said this week that Ukrainian troops had retaken roughly 150 square miles of territory in the Kharkiv region.

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The analysis said Ukrainian forces were “likely exploiting” the reallocation of Russian troops in the south following Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the Kherson region.

Advances were also reportedly made southeast of the Kharkiv region in Luhansk where Ukrainian troops pushed roughly a dozen miles into Russia’s front line and recaptured the settlements of Verbivka and Volokhiv Yar.

Ukrainian officials said earlier this year that a major counter-offensive was in the works after Russian troops began advancing across eastern and southern Ukraine. 

Intense fighting has been ongoing for weeks in Kherson, and the offensive has appeared to pick even more.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command said it had successfully repelled Russian advancement in several settlements in the region, though it is unclear if this means Ukrainian troops have recaptured these towns. 

The U.K. Defense Ministry on Thursday said Ukrainian forces had “probably destroyed” a military pontoon bridge near Darivka outside of Kherson city, which was utilized by Russian soldiers after Ukraine began targeting several bridges on the Dnieper River in July.

“Ukraine’s systematic precision targeting of vulnerable crossing points likely continues to impose pressure on Russian forces as they attempt to contain Ukrainian attacks,” the ministry said in its daily update.

Zelenskyy has repeatedly warned government and military officials not to discuss military plans or gains as Ukraine looks to repel Russian forces from its borders. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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