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Ukraine demands more Western arms after Russia pullback

A Ukrainian service member stands on a Russian 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled howitzer captured throughout a counteroffensive operation, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 12, 2022. Press service of the 25th Airborne Brigade of the MILITARY of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS

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  • Ukraine has seized back a large number of towns in rapid advance
  • Many fleeing Russian troops have exited Ukraine – U.S. official
  • Zelenskiy demands anti-aircraft systems from West

ZOLOCHIV, Ukraine, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is contacting the West to increase deliveries of weapons systems as Ukrainian troops proceed to consolidate control over a big swath of northeastern territory seized back from Russia.

Since Moscow abandoned its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine on Saturday, marking its worst defeat because the start of the war, Ukrainian troops have recaptured a large number of towns in a sensational shift in battleground momentum.

A senior U.S. military official said Russia has largely ceded territory near Kharkiv in the northeast and pulled a lot of its troops back on the border. read more

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Washington and its own allies have provided Ukraine with vast amounts of dollars in weapons that Kyiv says have helped limit Russian gains. In a video address late on Monday, Zelenskiy said Ukraine and the West must “strengthen cooperation to defeat Russian terror”.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Ukrainian forces have made “significant progress” with Western support.

“What they will have done is quite methodically planned out not to mention it’s benefited from significant support from america and several other countries when it comes to ensuring Ukraine has in its hands the gear it requires to prosecute this counteroffensive,” Blinken said throughout a news conference in Mexico City.

Washington announced its latest weapons programme for Ukraine the other day, including ammunition for HIMARS anti-rocket systems, and contains previously sent Ukraine NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, which can handle shooting down aircraft. read more

Zelenskiy said Ukraine had recaptured roughly 6,000 square km (2,400 square miles) of territory, a sliver of Ukraine’s overall land mass of around 600,000 square km. The recaptured land is approximately equal to the combined section of the West Bank and Gaza.

Russia has had control of around a fifth of Ukraine since its troops invaded on Feb. 24.

RUSSIAN PULLBACK

President Vladimir Putin and his senior officials have already been largely silent when confronted with Russian forces’ worst defeat since April, if they were repelled from the outskirts of Kyiv.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday side-stepped a reporter’s question of whether Putin still had confidence in the military leadership.

“The special military operation continues. And it’ll continue before goals which were originally set are achieved,” Peskov said.

Putin was shown on state TV on Monday chairing a gathering on the economy of which he said Russia was supporting well when confronted with Western sanctions.

“The economic blitzkrieg tactics, the onslaught these were counting on, didn’t work,” he said.

As a large number of Russian troops pulled back, abandoning ammunition and equipment, Russia fired missiles at power stations, causing blackouts in the Kharkiv and adjacent Poltava and Sumy regions.

Shelling of residential areas and infrastructure sparked fires in the town during the day on Monday, regional emergency services said on Facebook.

‘PEOPLE ARE JOYFUL’

Britain’s defence ministry said Moscow was struggling to create reserves south, where Ukraine is wanting to isolate a large number of Russian soldiers on the west bank of the Dnipro River, forcing most Russian forces to spotlight “emergency defensive actions.”

Ukraine’s southern command said its forces had recaptured 500 square km of territory in the south, killing 59 Russian troops previously 24 hours and destroying 20 devices.

The problem there might not be independently confirmed.

Further Russian retreats could soon put Ukrainian forces able to attack territory Russia and its own local proxies have held since 2014.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the pro-Russian separatist administration in Donetsk province, said Ukrainian troops were maintaining their attempts to advance on the frontline city of Lyman, east of Izium.

“(Our) units are preventing that and so are having good successes at repelling them. I really believe the problem will improve,” Pushilin said in a video on Telegram.

He said things were “more challenging” in the city of Sviatohirsk, southeast of Izium, but that neither side was in charge. Reuters cannot confirm this.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Aretovych said Ukrainian forces were making progress in Donetsk and crossed the Siverskyi Donets River, threatening to retake key towns lost to Russian forces after weeks of heavy fighting in June and July.

As Ukrainian forces swept closer into territory seized from Russian troops in the north, joyful residents returned with their frontline villages for the very first time in months.

“”Folks are crying, folks are joyful, needless to say. How could they not be joyful!” said retired English teacher Zoya, 76, in the now-quiet village of Zolochiv, north of Kharkiv and 18 km from the Russian frontier.

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Reporting by Reuters reporters; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Lincoln Feast.Editing by Shri Navaratnam

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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