‘The aim is to liberate’ Ukraine retakes land and vows to free all from Putin’s control

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In his evening update, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country has retaken land in the northeastern region of Kharkiv. Last Saturday, Russia abandoned its main bastion in the area, in what may be the worst defeat Vladimir Putin has suffered since the early days of the war. 

In Verbivka, a village northwest of Balakliya, 76-year-old Nadia Khvostok said local residents greeted Ukrainian troops “with tears in our eyes” as they realised they were no longer under Russian control.

Ms Khvostok said: “We could not have been happier.”

“My grandchildren spent two and a half months in the cellar.”

She added: “When the corner of the house was torn off, the children began to shudder and stutter.”

Oleh Syehubov, the regional governor of Kharkiv, visited Verbivka and said Ukraine authorities were attempting to record all crimes committed by Russia during their occupation of the area. 

The governor said: “We’re asking everyone around about all the places of burial which can be found.” 

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar spoke in Balakliia, which is a crucial military hub that Ukraine retook last week.

“The aim is to liberate the Kharkiv region and beyond – all the territories occupied by the Russian Federation,” Ms Malyar said. 

Russia has admitted to losing cities in the northeastern Kharkiv region, but has described its withdrawal from the areas as “regrouping”. 

Russian forces are now focused in the Luhansk and Donetsk providences in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been attempting to expand territory taken by separatists in 2014. 

In his update on the war, President Zelensky said “stabilisation measures” had been completed in half the territory that has recently been liberated.

He said: “And across a liberated area of about the same size, stabilisation measures are still ongoing.”

READ MORE: Ukrainian troops recapture of Kharkiv in major counteroffensive mapped

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made a phone call with Vladimir Putin to find a diplomatic solution to the war and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine. 

Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said the Chancellor spoke about the need for the safety of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine and that Russia must respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. 

Mr Hebestreit added: “The Federal Chancellor emphasised that any further Russian annexation steps would not go unanswered and would not be recognized under any circumstances.” 

The two leaders spoke for 90-minutes, in which President Putin agreed to remain in contact with the Chancellor. 


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