Ukraine claims to have taken again dozens of communities as Blinken visits

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KYIV — Ukraine on Thursday hailed a lightning counteroffensive it mentioned had recaptured swathes of its territory within the east and south, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the nation to pledge additional help.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mentioned in a video handle that Kyiv’s forces had “liberated dozens of settlements” and reclaimed 1,000 sq. kilometers (385 sq. miles) of territory within the east and south since Sept. 1.

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Zelenskiy additionally posted a video during which Ukrainian troopers claimed to have captured the japanese city of Balakliia close to Kharkiv, the second largest metropolis in Ukraine. Video posted to a well-liked Ukrainian information aggregator appeared to point out the Russians left vehicles, artillery and ammunition packing containers behind.

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Vitaly Ganchev, a neighborhood pro-Russian official, informed Russian state TV that Russian forces had fought off a Ukrainian try to encircle and seize Balakliia, which he mentioned remained in Russian arms.

Reuters couldn’t independently affirm the battlefield accounts.

Earlier, Ukrainian Brigadier Normal Oleksiy Gromov mentioned troops had superior as much as 50 kilometers (30 miles) behind Russian traces and recaptured greater than 20 villages within the Kharkiv area.

Blinken informed reporters earlier than leaving Kyiv: “We did get a complete replace on the counteroffensive and, once more, it’s very early however we’re seeing clear and actual progress on the bottom, significantly round Kherson, but in addition some attention-grabbing developments within the Donbas within the east.”

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Blinken pledged U.S. assist for “so long as it takes.”

If the positive aspects are confirmed and held, it will be a severe blow for Russia, which Western intelligence providers say has suffered large casualties. It might additionally symbolize an enormous enhance for Ukraine, which is eager to point out its Western backers that it will probably change the details on the bottom by power and deserves continued assist.

This week’s shock counteroffensive within the Kharkiv area noticed Ukrainian forces make a sudden and deep thrust behind Russian traces.

Ukraine has for weeks been speaking a couple of massive counteroffensive within the south round Kherson. Western navy analysts consider Russia could have left itself uncovered in different areas because it rushed to strengthen the south.

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Blinken introduced $2.2 billion in new overseas navy financing to Ukraine and 18 different nations vulnerable to future Russian aggression. Roughly $1 billion will go to Ukraine. The USA additionally introduced a separate $675 million in weapons to the nation.

‘WE ARE SCARED’

The Kharkiv area borders Russia and its predominant metropolis, Kharkiv, has for months been struck by Russian missiles after Moscow didn’t take it within the early phases of its Feb. 24 invasion.

Missiles hit a number of areas of Kharkiv once more on Thursday, inflicting widespread harm with casualties, in line with the Kharkiv area prosecutor’s workplace.

“We’re scared … You’ll be able to’t get used to it, by no means,” native resident Olena Rudenko informed Reuters.

Russia has repeatedly denied focusing on civilian areas.

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Kyiv is below strain to exhibit progress on the bottom earlier than winter units in, amid threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt all vitality shipments to Europe if Brussels goes forward with a proposal to cap the value of Russian fuel.

Russia has confirmed preventing within the Kharkiv area space however has not confirmed any territorial losses, although unverified social media accounts run by Russian navy consultants have urged Moscow did endure setbacks and would want to urgently reinforce.

Heavy preventing was additionally reported on Thursday in areas close to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy station in southern Ukraine after Kyiv warned it might need to close down the plant to keep away from catastrophe.

Putin mentioned on Wednesday that Russia wouldn’t lose what he calls its “particular navy operation” in Ukraine, an train he has described as an try to preemptively defend his nation’s safety towards an increasing NATO.

Requested in regards to the conflict’s progress, Putin mentioned: “Now we have not misplaced something and won’t lose something.”

(Reporting by Reuters reporters and by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, Simon Lewis in Poland and by Idrees Ali and Sabine Siebold in Germany; Writing by Andrew Osborn, Alexandra Hudson and Cynthia Osterman; Modifying by William Maclean, Jon Boyle, Alex Richardson, Grant McCool)

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