Zelenskyy says Ukraine has re-taken 6,000 sq km from Russia after lightning advance

A Ukrainian soldier looks on near an exploded car in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region. Credit: AP

Ukrainian forces have retaken roughly 6,000 square km (2,400 square miles) of territory this month during its counteroffensive, the country's president said, as he called on the West to speed up deliveries of weapons systems.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine seized the land from Russian control in September, in the east and the south of the country, with Ukrainian troops recapturing dozens of towns as part of the lightning advance. These claims are yet to be independently verified.

Ukraine's general staff said its forces had recaptured more than 20 towns and villages in just the past day, with Ukrainian military intelligence saying Russian troops were surrendering en masse.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Aretovych said Ukrainian troops were successfully advancing in Donetsk and crossed the Siverskyi Donets River, in the eastern part of the country.

This could lead to Ukraine reclaiming strategically important towns in the region after weeks of heavy fighting in June and July.

Russia has largely ceded territory near Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv, in the northeast, and pulled many of its troops back over the border, according to a senior US military official.

The recaptured land is estimated to be only a fraction of Ukraine's total land mass, which comes to 600,000 square km.

People pass by heavily damaged buildings after latest Russian rocket attack in Dnipro. Credit: AP

Russia has been accused of hitting civilian infrastructure in revenge for military setbacks.

Early on Tuesday, it shelled the city of Lozova in the Kharkiv region, killing three people and injuring nine, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

The Nikopol area, which is across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, was shelled six times during the night but no injuries were immediately reported, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

A Russian paratrooper fires a portable missile on a mission on the Nikolaev-Krivoy Rog direction in Ukraine. Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Continued shelling, however, has left Europe’s largest nuclear facility in a precarious position.

After months of little discernible movement on the battlefield, the momentum has lifted Ukrainian morale and provoked rare public criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

In Kharkiv, and the capital of the region where many gains have been made, authorities have hailed that power and water had been restored to about 80% of the region's population following Russian attacks on infrastructure.

Despite jubilant moods, Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine and Western nations must "strengthen cooperation to defeat Russian terror" in a video address late on Monday.

“From the beginning of September until today, our soldiers have already liberated more than 6,000 square kilometers of the territory of Ukraine — in the east and south. The movement of our troops continues,” he added.

Since the invasion began at the end of February, Russia has taken control of around a fifth of Ukraine.

Faced with one of its worst defeats in nearly seven months of the war, the Kremlin have said it would still achieve its military objectives.

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