“People are crying, people are joyful, of course. How could they not be joyful!” said retired English teacher Zoya, 76, in the now-quiet village of Zolochiv, north of Kharkiv and 18 km from the Russian frontier, weeping as she described the months she had spent sheltering in the cellar.
Vitaly Ganchev, the Russian-installed head of Moscow’s occupation administration in what remained of Russian-held territory in the Kharkiv region, acknowledged that Ukrainian forces had broken through to the frontier.
‘Emergency defensive actions’
“The special military operation continues. And it will continue until the goals that were originally set are achieved,” Mr Peskov said.
“The economic blitzkrieg tactics, the onslaught they were counting on, did not work,” he said.
A woman comforts a crying baby girl after an apartment building was partially destroyed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine. Source: Getty / Future Publishing/Future Publishing via Getty Imag
After days of avoiding the subject, Russia’s defence ministry acknowledged on Saturday it had abandoned its main stronghold in the northeast, Izium and neighbouring Balakliia, saying it was a pre-planned “regrouping”.
As thousands of Russian troops pulled back, leaving behind ammunition and equipment, Russia fired missiles at power stations on Sunday causing blackouts in the Kharkiv and adjacent Poltava and Sumy regions.
“As a result of shelling five fires have broken out. Administrative buildings and construction sites caught fire as did a number of vehicles,” they said, adding that the largest fire was in an apartment building, with about 100 firefighters on site.
Mr Zelenskyy has earlier said the latest offensive could mark a breakthrough in the six-month-old war, with more territorial gains possible in the winter if Kyiv received more powerful weapons.
Ukrainian Armed Forces set fire to Russian flags, replacing them with Ukraine’s flag in areas they recaptured after Russian troops withdrew. Source: AAP / Assault Troops of the Armed Forc/Cover Images
Britain’s ministry of defence said Russia had probably ordered a withdrawal from all of the Kharkiv region west of the Oskil River. That means abandoning the sole railway line that had sustained Russian operations in the northeast.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern command said its forces had recaptured 500 square kilometres of territory in the south. The situation there could not be independently confirmed.
“At the very least, we have stopped the enemy at Lyman,” he said in a post on Telegram overnight, referring to a frontline city east of Izium. He also described fighting at Bakhmut and Vuhledar further south.
“And how many years is that supposed to take?” replied another. “So my 10-year-old children will get a chance to fight?”
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