President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military had made major, rapid advances against Russian forces in the past week, taking back dozens of towns in regions in the south and east that Russia has declared annexed.
“This week alone, since the Russian pseudo-referendum, dozens of population centres have been liberated. These are in Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions all together,” he said in a Tuesday night address.
Russia moved to annex those regions after holding what it called referendums over several days from Sept. 23 – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed their annexation last Friday.
Zelenskiy named eight small towns in Kherson in the south as recently having been recaptured. Reuters could not independently verify his statements.A video released by the Ukraine defence ministry appeared to show the Ukrainian flag being raised over one of those communities, Davydiv Brid, in Kherson.
Ukrainian forces retook several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-backed leader in the area said.
In the east, Ukrainian forces have been expanding an offensive after capturing the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk, the town of Lyman.Russian forces in the Donetsk and Kherson regions have been forced to retreat in recent days and appear to be struggling to halt an increasingly Western-equipped Ukrainian army.
“In some areas of the front line it was possible to extend the area we hold from between 10 to 20 km,” the southern Operational Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) said on Wednesday.
Russian forces were destroying their reserves of ammunition and trying to destroy bridges and crossings in order to slow the Ukrainian advance, the UAF said in its daily report.
In Kherson, withdrawing Russian forces were planting mines on “infrastructure facilities” and in homes, it said.
In the past 24 hours, Russia had lost 31 servicemen, more than 40 pieces of equipment, including eight tanks, 26 armoured vehicles, and a large calibre howitzer, it said.
RUSSIAN ESCALATIONPutin had been expected to sign on Tuesday evening a law formally annexing the four Ukrainian regions. They represent about 18% of Ukraine’s territory, and Kyiv and its Western allies annexation say is illegal and will not be recognised.
U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO MEET