A couple walks past a destroyed building in Izyum in eastern Ukraine, after the city was freed by Ukrainian forces A couple walks past a destroyed building in Izyum in eastern Ukraine, after the city was freed by Ukrainian forces 

Russia admits defeat in key areas of Ukraine

Russia admits to losing control over key cities in Ukraine's north-eastern Kharkiv region, in what some military experts see as a potential breakthrough in the war. The comments came after Ukraine's president said the Ukrainian gains are part of a significant counter-offensive against Russian forces.

By Stefan J. Bos

Video footage emerged of Ukrainian soldiers clearing up tanks and artillery from recently abandoned Russian positions. In addition, equipment and military vehicles were destroyed or appeared to have been left behind by fleeing Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian troops recaptured thousands of miles of territory. "From the beginning of September until today, our warriors have already liberated more than 6,000 square kilometers or 2,317 square miles of the territory of Ukraine - in the east and south," he told his nation in a video message.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Russia has acknowledged that its military withdrew from critical cities in the north-eastern Kharkiv region. But Moscow claims its forces are regrouping to focus on the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine's east.

However, critics have ridiculed those comments, and at least some military experts view the Ukrainian advances as a significant setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Ukrainian forces made "significant progress" in their counter-offensive. But he cautions that it was too early to predict the outcome.

There are concerns in Ukraine that in response to the counter-offensive, Russia's military will step up attacks on civilian sites.

Tensions also remain high around Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The Russian-held Zaporizhzhia station has been taken off the grid as Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling the area.

And as clashes continue, the death toll will rise on and around the battlefields. Tens of thousands, including civilians and soldiers, are believed to have died in the more than 200-days-old Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

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13 September 2022, 17:04