Ukrainian forces have retaken 6,000 square kilometers of their homeland, including 3,000 in the past six days alone, it has been reported.

And in his nightly address to his nation, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “the advance of our forces” continues.

His claims appear to be backed by a renowned think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US-based group that provides research and analysis on defense and foreign affairs.

He said the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region was “routing Russian forces and collapsing Russia’s northern Donbass axis”.

It continues: “Russian forces are not carrying out a controlled withdrawal and are hastily fleeing southeastern Kharkiv Oblast (an administrative region) to escape the encirclement around Izyum.”

A Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman said Russian troops were surrendering en masse because ‘they understand the desperation of their situation’ and an adviser to President Zelenskyy said there were so many prisoners of war the country lacked space to accommodate them.

It is claimed that the Ukrainian army liberated more than 20 settlements in 24 hours.

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A Ukrainian soldier stands on a captured Russian howitzer during the counteroffensive

In recent days, Kyiv forces have captured territory at least twice the size of Greater London, according to the British Ministry of Defence.

“Since the beginning of September and until today, our fighters have liberated more than 6,000 km2 of the
territory of Ukraine to the south and east,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video.

He said he was grateful for the soldiers who “advanced with great courage, with great confidence” and who “advanced steadily despite everything – despite the characteristics of the open terrain, despite the artillery of the occupiers”.

“Guys, you are real heroes!” he added.

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After months of little discernible movement on the battlefield, the momentum has boosted Ukrainian morale and prompted rare public criticism of the war from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian military bloggers and patriotic commentators chastised the Kremlin for not mobilizing more forces and taking stronger action.

Russia has repeatedly called its invasion a war, describing it instead as a “special military operation”.

On the other side Ukrainethe atmosphere was jubilant.

In Kharkiv, the region’s second-largest city and capital where the gains were made, authorities said electricity and water had been restored to around 80 percent of the region’s population following Russian attacks on infrastructure during the night which cut off electricity in many places. .

Eyewitness: Bodies left to rot as people describe burial of neighbors – life in a liberated village

Firefighters from the Ukrainian State Emergency Service put out the blaze after a Russian rocket attack hit a power plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Sunday, September 11, 2022. Kharkiv and Donetsk regions were completely disconnected during the rocket attack.  (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)
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After Ukrainian gains, Russian forces retaliated, striking infrastructure like this power station in Kharkiv. Photo: AP

Ukrainian forces are said to have pushed back to the northeastern border in some places, forcing the Russians to make a hasty retreat.

There were reports of chaos as Russian troops retreated.

“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,” said Dmytro Hrushchenko, a resident of Zaliznychne, a small town recently released near the east. frontline, told Sky News.

Video taken by the Ukrainian military showed soldiers raising the Ukrainian flag above battle-damaged buildings.

In one scene, a fighter wiped his boots on a Russian flag on the ground. Other videos showed Ukrainians inspecting the wreckage of Russian military vehicles, including tanks.

Ukrainian teams were disarming landmines and other unexploded weapons in recaptured areas and searching for remaining Russian troops, officials said.

However, defense experts have warned that the battle in Ukraine has had its ups and downs over the past few months.

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