After making massive gains over the weekend, Ukrainian troops' counter-offensive took back more ground on Monday (September 12). Ukraine has also claimed to have captured a record number of Russian soldiers.
The US military said that Russia had largely lost territory it seized near Kharkiv and that Russian soldiers were retreating across the border, reported AFP.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine has retaken 6,000 square kilometers (2,300 square miles) in the east and the south since the beginning of September.
Ukraine says its forces have regained yet more ground in the past 24 hours and retaken an area seven times the size of Kyiv this month.
Russia has responded with strikes on some recaptured areashttps://t.co/WH3XVEV7eF pic.twitter.com/J1tl4rleLm— AFP News Agency (@AFP) September 13, 2022
Russia retreats: A spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence said that Russian troops were surrendering en masse. A Ukrainian presidential adviser said there were so many POWs (prisoners of war) that the country was running out of space to accommodate them, reported AP.
Russia's Ministry of Defence acknowledged on Saturday that it had abandoned its main stronghold in the northeast, Izium and neighbouring Balakliia, in what it called a pre-planned "regrouping", reported Reuters.
As thousands of Russian troops fled their positions, they abandoned ammunition stockpiles and equipment.
Ukraine's counter-offensive continues: Ukraine forces have said that their counter-offensive in the eastern and southern part of the country has helped them take back more ground in the past 24 hours, as Russia replied with strikes on some of the recaptured areas.
The Ukrainian military said it has freed more than 20 settlements in the last 24 hours and that it has recaptured about 500 sq km of territory in the south of the country over the past two weeks.
Zelensky's passionate speech: In a passionate overnight speech on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainians would live without food, water, gas and heat if it meant having nothing to do with Russia.
"Do you still think you can scare us, break us, force us to make concessions?" he said, addressing Russians. "Cold, hunger, darkness, and thirst are not as frightening or as deadly for us as your 'brotherhood and friendship'."
Joy in liberated areas: People were seen celebrating and weeping in joy as Ukranian forces liberated areas that were captured by Russian military.
"People are crying. People are joyful. Of course! How could they not be joyful? retired English teacher Zoya, 76, north of Kharkiv, told Reuters.
Turning point in the war? The war is far from over, and Ukraine will suffer more setbacks. But the liberation of Kharkiv Oblast is part of a long pattern that points toward more Ukrainian gains and more Russian losses. It could point toward Ukrainian victory," US think tank Institute for the Study of War tweeted.
The war is far from over, and #Ukraine will suffer more setbacks. But the liberation of #Kharkiv Oblast is part of a long pattern that points toward more Ukrainian gains and more Russian losses. It could point toward Ukrainian victory. 6/— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) September 12, 2022
Read the latest: https://t.co/zAXz3Q5WCl
The think tank also wrote that Ukraine has liberated over 60,000 square km of territory since the Russians began retreating from around Kyiv in early April.
Death toll so far: The latest UN figures found 5,514 civilian deaths in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country. Ukraine's military chief has said nearly 9,000 soldiers have died in the war and US intelligence estimates that some 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed so far in Ukraine.