“The enemy is being delayed as much as possible, but several settlements have already come under the control of Ukrainian armed formations,” Vitaly Ganchev, head of the Russian-backed administration in the Kharkiv region, said on state television.
Ukrainian rescuers clear debris after a rocket hit a residential building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 8 September 2022 amid Russia’s military invasion. Source: AAP / EPA
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later said Kyiv’s forces had liberated more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region so far and that fighting continued in the eastern Donbas region and the south.
Citing what he described as reports from the front line, Mr Arestovych said hundreds of Russians had died so far, and several hundred more had been taken prisoner. Reuters was not able to immediately verify his claim.
The Kyiv government and its Western allies accuse Russia of an imperial-style war of aggression.
One image showed troops a highway welcome sign for Kupiansk, previously more than 50 kilometres inside Russia’s front line.
The Ukrainian general staff said early on Friday that retreating Russian forces were trying to evacuate wounded personnel and damaged military equipment near Kharkiv.
The centre of Kharkiv, which has been regularly bombarded, was hit by Russian rocket fire, wounding 10 people, including three children, Governor Oleh Synehubov said.
The Ukrainians broke through in the east a week after Kyiv announced the start of a long-awaited counter-offensive hundreds of kilometres away at the other end of the front line, in the southern province of Kherson.
Separately, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday shelling had destroyed power infrastructure in the southern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar where the staff operating the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station live, posing a growing threat to the plant.