Ukraine reclaims territory in notable push towards Russian border

Ukrainian troops reclaimed a large swath of territory from Russia on Monday, pushing back the northeastern border in some places in a rapid advance that forced Moscow to hastily withdraw from occupied lands.

As blue and yellow Ukrainian flags waved over newly liberated towns, the Ukrainian military said its troops had liberated more than 20 settlements in 24 hours.

“The Russians were here in the morning. Then at noon they suddenly started screaming wildly and started running away, charging into tanks and armored vehicles,” Dmytro Hrushchenko told Sky News. Hrushchenko is a resident of Zaliznychne, a recently liberated town near the eastern front line.

It was not yet clear whether the Ukrainian blitz could mark a turning point in the war, although some analysts warned that the fighting was likely to last for months. Momentum has gone back and forth before, but rarely with such a large and sudden swing.

The mood was jubilant across the country.

In Kharkiv, authorities welcomed the restoration of electricity and water to around 80% of the region’s population.

“You are heroes!!!” Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov wrote on Telegram, referring to teams that restored public services in Ukraine’s second-largest city. “Thank you to everyone who did everything possible on this most difficult night to get Kharkiv to normalize life in the city as soon as possible.”

The upbeat mood was also captured by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday night on social media.

“Do you still think you can intimidate us, break us, force us to make concessions? asks Zelensky. ‘Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not as frightening and deadly as your ‘friendship’ and brotherhood.’ ”

Meanwhile, in Russia, military bloggers and patriotic commentators have criticized President Vladimir Putin’s government for not mobilizing more forces and taking stronger action against Ukraine.

“The people who convinced President Putin that the operation would be quick and effective…those people really trapped us all,” said Boris Nadezhdin, a former MP.

Even amid Ukraine’s good mood, the losses kept mounting. The country’s presidential office said on Monday that at least four civilians had been killed and 11 others injured in Russian attacks in nine regions of the country. The UN Human Rights Office said last week that 5,767 civilians had been killed so far.

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