Kiev’s military says it has recaptured territories from Russian forces in the south and the east, while US Secretary of State vows new military aid for Ukraine.
Ukraine said on Thursday that its troops had recaptured over 700 square kilometres of territory in the south and in the eastern Kharkiv region from Russian forces, a claim that came on the day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Kiev.
At a briefing, Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Kiev’s troops advanced up to 50 kilometres into Russian lines and retaken more than 20 villages.
Kiev has so far declined to disclose many details so as not to compromise the operation.
The most-detailed public assessment so far of Ukraine’s counter-offensive came hours after Blinken met with senior Ukrainian officials in Kiev and said Washington intended to provide a $2.2-billion military aid to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbours that are “most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression”.
Pending expected congressional approval, about $1 billion of that will go to Ukraine – an assistance that will further bolster Kiev’s military that is depending on Western arms supplies against Russian forces and claims making gains in recent counteroffensives.
The rest of the amount will be divided among Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the US State Department said.
“President (Joe) Biden has been clear we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Blinken said in a statement.
“I reiterated this message to President Zelenskyy and his team today in Kiev, which remains – and will remain – the capital of a sovereign, independent Ukraine.”
The Foreign Military Financing is on top of a separate $675 million package of heavy weaponry, ammunition and armoured vehicles for Ukraine alone that Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced earlier on Thursday at a conference in Ramstein, Germany.
Thursday’s contributions bring total US aid to Ukraine to $15.2 billion since US President Biden took office.
US officials said the new commitments were intended to show that American support for the country in the face of Russia’s offensive is unwavering.
Ukraine recaptures more than 700 km ² and over 20 settlements of its territory in Kharkiv region — Ukrainian army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi pic.twitter.com/4bveHfHdVJ
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 8, 2022
Blinken’s visit amidst intensified fighting
In Kiev before meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken visited the US embassy and then the National Specialised Children’s Hospital Ohmatdyt, where he saw boys and girls injured during Russian bombardments, including Maryna, a six-year-old from the city of Kherson who lost a leg after a rocket struck her house.
In one ward, Blinken brought a basket of stuffed animals, which the children quickly dangled in front of Patron to get his attention. Blinken told parents that “the spirit of your children sends a very strong message around the world.”
His visit came amid intensified fighting between Ukraine and Russia, with Kiev launching a counteroffensive to retake Russian-held areas in the south and the east.
“During defence operations to recapture lost territory in the Kharkiv direction, since the start of the week, Ukraine’s armed forces… have penetrated into enemy’s lines by a depth of up to 50 km,” Ukrainian Brigadier General Gromov said at his briefing.
He did not say which settlements had been recaptured in Kharkiv region.
“The total amount of territory returned to Ukrainian control in the Kharkiv and Pivdennyi Buh directions stands at over 700 square kilometres,” he said.
Pivdennyi Buh is a river that runs through the southern frontline city of Mykolaiv before discharging in the Black Sea.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies