Ukraine pushes to retake all land from Russia, calls for Western arms

AFP

Ukraine said on Tuesday it aimed to liberate all of its territory after driving back Russian forces in the northeast of country in a rapid offensive, but called on the West to speed up deliveries of weapons systems to back the advance.

Since Moscow abandoned its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine on Saturday, marking its worst defeat since the early days of the war, Ukrainian troops have recaptured dozens of towns in a stunning shift in battleground momentum.

Fighting was still raging in the northeastern Kharkiv region, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar told Reuters on Tuesday, saying Ukraine's forces were making good progress because they are highly motivated and their operation is well planned.

"The aim is to liberate the Kharkiv region and beyond - all the territories occupied by the Russian Federation," she said on the road to Balakliia, a crucial military supply hub recaptured by Ukrainian forces late last week which lies 74 km southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

In a video address late on Monday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the West must speed up deliveries of weapons systems, calling on Ukraine's allies to "strengthen cooperation to defeat Russian terror".

Since Russia's February 24 invasion, Washington and its allies have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in weapons that Kyiv says have helped limit Moscow's gains. Russian forces control around a fifth of the country in the south and east but Ukraine is now on the offensive in both areas.

The Ukrainian military did not report any fresh advances on Tuesday, saying Russian forces were shelling parts of Kharkiv region retaken by Ukraine and attacking further south in Donetsk region, which Moscow is trying to seize for separatist proxies.

Ukraine had repelled the Donetsk region attacks, its general staff report said, while Denis Pushilin, head of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic, said its forces were repelling Ukrainian attacks and he believed the situation would improve.

Serhiy Gaidai, Ukrainian governor of the neighbouring Luhansk region, which Moscow has seized, said a major Ukrainian offensive may be expected there on Tuesday.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

A senior US military official said earlier that Russia had largely ceded territory near Kharkiv in the northeast and pulled many of its troops back over the border. 

A video issued by Ukraine's border guards service showed what it said were Ukrainian troops liberating the town of Vovchansk near the country's border with Russia, burning down flags and tearing down a poster saying "We are one with Russia".

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