German Foreign Minister promises to help Ukraine demine, dodges question about sending battle tanks

Ukrainian forces recaptured 6,000 square kilometers in a counteroffensive this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said September 12 after a Russian-imposed official admitted Russian forces were vastly overwhelmed in number as the army pushed its counter-offensive in northeastern Ukraine.

“Since the beginning of September, our soldiers have already liberated 6,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory in the east and south, and we are going further,” Zelenskiy said in his evening speech.

Six thousand square kilometers is about six and a half times the size of the city of Berlin.

Just two days ago, Zelenskiy announced the liberation of around 2,000 square kilometers. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Army said on September 11 that Ukrainian forces had liberated more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv, Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

A Russian-imposed official, Vitaly Ganchev, said earlier on Sept. 12 on the Russian state-run Rossiya 24 that Ukrainian troops had recaptured previously Russian-held areas in northern Kharkiv, crossing the border with Russia, and that “about 5,000” civilians had been evacuated to Russia.

According to Ganchev, the Ukrainian army outnumbered Russian forces eight times during the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the region that began last week.

Ganchev said “the situation is getting more difficult by the hour”, adding that the border with Russia’s Belgorod region is now closed.

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His unconfirmed comments came as the Ukrainian military reports further success, liberating areas of eastern Ukraine from occupying Russian forces.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian forces overran the main Russian supply centers of Izyum and Kupyansk, where the Russian-installed administration in the Kharkiv region was based.

On September 11, the Russian Defense Ministry released a map showing that Russian forces had almost completely abandoned the Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian troops shared videos of themselves raising Ukrainian flags on buildings in the Kharkiv region and being greeted by grateful locals. Some of the videos show Russian artillery pieces and tanks abandoned by fleeing troops.

A video showed Ukrainian troops in front of a municipal building in Hoptivka, a village about 2 kilometers from the border and about 19 kilometers north of Kharkiv.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synyehubov said Ukrainian troops had regained control of more than 40 settlements in the region.

But as Ukrainian troops push the counteroffensive, it was feared that it could trigger an even more violent response from Moscow. Russia has already launched missile attacks that hit key civilian infrastructure, according to Ukrainian officials.

Electricity and water problems were reported in Kharkiv, Sumy, Poltava, Zaporizhzhya and Dnipropetrovsk regions, possibly affecting millions of people.

Ukrainian officials said Russia hit Kharkiv TEC-5, the country’s second-largest heating and power plant, and Zelenskiy released video of the burning Kharkiv power plant.

In the early hours of September 12, authorities in Kyiv said electricity and water supplies had been restored to around 80% in the Kharkiv region.

The city of Kharkiv lost its water and electricity supply due to renewed Russian shelling on September 12, which the mayor said was closing in on the city center.

“The situation last night repeated itself. Due to the shelling, critical infrastructure was disabled and as a result, electricity was cut off in Kharkiv and water supply was cut off,” he said. Mayor Ihor Terekhov said in a statement. post on telegram.

Later on September 11, Zelenskiy said Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure “to deprive people of light and heat.”

“Russian terrorists remain terrorists and attack critical infrastructure. No military installations, only the goal of leaving people without light or heat,” he tweeted, adding a note of defiance.

Addressing Moscow, Zelenskiy wrote: “Do you still think you can intimidate us, break us, force us to make concessions?…. Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not as scary and deadly as your ‘friendship and brotherhood’. .’ But history will set it all in place. And we will be with gas, electricity, water and food… and WITHOUT you!”

Separately, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the Russian-occupied south was completely shut down on September 11 in a bid to prevent a radioactive disaster as fighting raged nearby.

On the battlefield, the British Ministry of Defense said on September 12 that Russia had probably ordered its forces to withdraw from the entire Kharkiv region west of the Oskil River, abandoning the main route of supply which had supported its operations in the east.

In his daily life updatethe ministry said forces from Moscow were also struggling to bring reserves to the front line in the south, where Ukraine has launched a major advance in the Kherson region aimed at isolating thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnieper.

“The majority of the (Russian) force in Ukraine is most likely forced to prioritize emergency defensive actions,” the UK update said. “The rapid Ukrainian successes have important implications for Russia’s overall operational design.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said the withdrawal from Izyum and other areas was aimed at bolstering Moscow’s forces in the neighboring Donetsk region to the south. The explanation was similar to how Russia justified its withdrawal from Kyiv earlier this year.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell discussed the success of Ukraine’s counter-offensive with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on September 12.

EU support will continue, Borrell said on Twitter.

“Our strategy is working: helping Ukraine fight back, pressuring Russia with sanctions, and supporting partners around the world,” Borrell said.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said on September 12 that Russia likely lacked the reserve forces it needed to bolster its defenses in Ukraine.

While the war is likely to continue into next year, the institute believes that “Ukraine has turned the tide of this war in its favor” by effectively using Western-supplied weapons like the long-range missile system. HIMARS and powerful battlefield tactics.

“Kyiv will likely increasingly dictate where and what the main fights are,” he added. said.

With setbacks seemingly piling up on the battlefield, the Kremlin said it was open to talks with Kyiv.

“Russia does not reject negotiations with Ukraine, but the longer the process takes, the more difficult it will be to reach an agreement,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state television on September 11.

With reports from AP, Reuters, dpa and AFP

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