The US military said Monday that Russia had largely lost territory it seized near Kharkiv and that Russian soldiers were retreating across the border. Ukraine earlier accused the Russian military of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a rapid weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops. Read FRANCE 24’s blog to follow all the developments that unfolded through the day. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).


01:35am: Blinken says Ukraine has made ‘significant progress’ in counteroffensive

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that it was still early days in Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces, but Ukrainian forces have made “significant progress.”

“What they have done is very methodically planned out and of course it’s benefited from significant support from the United States and many other countries in terms of making sure that Ukraine has in its hands the equipment it needs to prosecute this counteroffensive,” Blinken said during a news conference in Mexico.

Blinken also said Iran’s response to a European Union proposal on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal makes the prospects for an agreement in the near term unlikely.

10:28pm: Four bodies with ‘torture signs’ found in recaptured village

Four bodies of civilians with “signs of torture” have been found in a village retaken from Russian forces in a key eastern region, Ukrainian authorities said on Monday. Additionally, one Russian strike has caused major disruption to water and power supplies in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv.

“The Ukrainian interpretation is that this is Russian revenge for this extraordinarily successful counterattack that the Ukrainians have managed to stage in Kharkiv region” says FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reporting from Kyiv.

9:56pm: Russia cedes gains near Kharkiv as its soldiers retreat 

Russia has largely ceded its gains near Kharkiv and many retreating Russian soldiers have exited Ukraine, moving over the border back into Russia, a senior US military official said on Monday.

“On the ground in the vicinity of Kharkiv we assess that Russian forces have largely ceded their gains to the Ukrainians and have withdrawn to the north and east. Many of these forces have moved over the border into Russia,” the US military official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Overall we assess the Ukrainians are making progress as they fight to liberate and reclaim territory in the south and east,” the official said. 

9:48pm: Ukraine recaptures more ground as Russia strikes back

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late on Monday that Ukraine had retaken 6,000 square kilometres of territory from Russia this month alone. 

Ukrainian forces said earlier in the day that their lightning counter-offensive took back 20 settlements in the past 24 hours, as Russia responded with strikes on some of the recaptured areas.

The territorial shifts marked one of Russia’s biggest reversals since its troops were turned back from Kyiv in the earliest days of the nearly seven months of fighting, yet Moscow signalled it was no closer to agreeing a negotiated peace.

The retreat of Russian troops in recent days has drawn weeping and relieved locals into bomb-cratered streets, including on Sunday in the strategic but heavily damaged town of Izyum.

9:00pm: Is this a turning point in the war? Ukraine counter-offensive ups pressure on Putin

FRANCE 24 spoke to Alexander Rodnyansky, presidential adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, about Ukraine’s surprise counter-offensive and Moscow’s response.

“This is a big moment for us and we hope it will continue. The plan is to push on to return all the territories that have been occupied. And ultimately, this will lead to a collapse of the Russian regime and then to a chance at long-lasting stability and peace yet again in the region,” Rodnyansky says.

Click on the player below to watch The Debate in full. 

2:34pm: ‘Taking over Izyum is a major strategic gain for Ukraine’

Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Izyum, a major supply hub on the Donets River in northeastern Ukraine, on Saturday. Russian forces had used Izyum as the logistics base for one of their main campaigns – a months-long assault from the north on the adjacent Donbas region comprising Donetsk and Luhansk.

“Taking over Izyum means that the Ukrainians have deprived the Russians of one of their main place d’armes (armouries) for the offenses heading for the south, as they try to take the rest of the Donetsk region,” reports FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg from Kyiv, Ukraine. 

1:33pm: IAEA chief says both Russia and Ukraine interested in Zaporizhzhia protection zone

Ukraine and Russia are interested in the UN atomic watchdog proposal that a protection zone be created around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, its chief Rafael Grossi said on Monday.

Both countries are engaging with the International Atomic Energy Agency and asking many questions about on the idea, which is aimed at preventing military activities like the shelling that has damaged the plant’s power lines and jeopardised its security, Grossi told a news conference.

1:31pm: Mayor of Kharkiv says city has lost power again after strikes

Russian strikes have again cut off power and water supplies to Kharkiv, the mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city said on Monday.

“Last night’s situation is being repeated. Due to the (Russian) strikes … power and water supplies have halted,” said Ihor Terekhov, adding that emergency services were working to restore the services.

1:21pm: At least 1,000 killed in Izyum since start of war, says Ukrainian official

At least 1,000 people have been killed in the last six months in fighting in the Ukrainian city of Izyum but the real figure is probably much higher, a Ukrainian official said on Monday, two days after Kyiv’s forces recaptured the major supply hub.

Izyum had served for months as Russia’s main stronghold in northeastern Ukraine, and its recapture by Ukrainian forces represents a major setback for what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“Izym suffered heavily due to Russian aggression,” Maksym Strelnikov, a member of the city council, told a televised news conference, adding that 80 percent of its infrastructure had been destroyed.

“According to the information we have, at least 1,000 residents unfortunately died as a result of fighting, but we believe that an even larger number of people suffered due to not being able to receive necessary medical help as the Russians destroyed all medical institutions in Izyum in March,” he said.

Strelnikov added that only around 10,000 people remained in Izyum, about a fifth of the city’s prewar population.

12:33pm: Ukraine says it has recaptured 500 sq km of territory in the south 

Ukrainian forces have retaken about 500 square km of territory in the south of the country in the past two weeks as part of a counter-offensive against Russian troops, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command said Monday.

“On various sections we have advanced by (between) four and several tens of kilometres. We have liberated areas totalling around 500 square km,” Natalia Humeniuk told a news briefing via video link, naming five settlements in the Kherson region which she said had been recaptured by Ukraine.

12:28pm: Military action in Ukraine to continue until objectives ‘achieved’, Russia says

Russia’s military action in Ukraine will continue, the Kremlin said Monday, after Ukrainian forces reclaimed significant territory in a counter-offensive in the country’s east.

“The special military operation continues and will continue until the objectives that were originally set are achieved,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that he saw “no prospects for negotiations” between Moscow and Kyiv.

11:39am: Russian defence ministry says its forces conducting air strikes in Kharkiv

Russia’s defence ministry on Monday said that Russian forces were conducting air strikes on Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv region, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported.

The defence ministry on Sunday published a map showing its forces had abandoned almost all of Kharkiv region, after a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive last week forced Russia to abandon a series of key strongholds in the province.

10:55am: UN rights chief says Russian intimidating opposition to Ukraine war

The acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday that Russia was intimidating opponents of the war in Ukraine.

“In the Russian Federation, the intimidation, restrictive measures and sanctions against people voicing opposition to the war in Ukraine undermine the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms, including the rights to free assembly, expression and association,” Nada Al- Nashif said in a speech at the opening of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She also said Moscow was violating the right to access information by pressuring journalists, blocking the internet and through other forms of censorship.

10:29am: Ukraine’s troops outnumbered Russia’s by eight times, Russian official says over Ukrainian counteroffensive

A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region said on Monday that Ukrainian forces outnumbered Russian and pro-Russian forces by eight times during a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive in the region last week.

Speaking to the state-owned Rossiya-24 television channel, Vitaly Ganchev said that Ukrainian forces had captured previously Russian-held settlements in the region’s north, breaking through to the border with Russia, and that “about 5000” civilians had been evacuated to Russia.

The battlefield reports could not be immediately verified.

9:07am: Ukraine says it has recaptured more than 20 settlements in past 24 hours

Ukrainian armed forces said Monday they had recaptured more than 20 settlements in the past 24 hours amid a large counter-offensive.

“In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian armed forces drove the enemy away from more than 20 settlements” and are regaining “full control over them” the Ukrainian army said in its daily briefing. 

8:46am: Zelensky ‘wants to encourage a mood of defiance among Ukrainians’

FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gulliver Cragg reports from Kyiv that Zelensky wants to encourage a mood of defiance among Ukrainians following alleged Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in response to the weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops that pushed Russian troops out of Kharkiv.

“I think Volodymyr Zelensky wants to encourage Ukrainians to feel very angry about what seem to be these revenge attacks deliberately cutting off electricity because that will help them to feel defiant. … He said in a message posted a message on Telegram to the Russians: ‘Have you still not understood that we don’t want you, and that we will have electricity and gas even without you?’” Cragg reported.

“And he said that Ukrainians would prefer, at least for a certain time, to be without electricity if that is the cost of getting rid of the Russians. And I think he pretty well captures the mood that is dominant in Ukraine at the moment.’” 

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8:20am: Moldava axes plan to resume Russia-bound flights

The national air carrier of Ukraine’s neighbour Moldova has cancelled plans to resume Russia-bound flights, it said.

Air Moldova had announced on Friday that it would resume flights to Russia, which were halted over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

But in a statement late Sunday it said that “Moldova’s civil aviation authority published an operational directive… prohibiting national companies to carry out flights in Russia’s air space.”

Moldova, a country of 2.6 million people wedged between Romania and Ukraine, was in late June granted EU candidate status. However, the process of its accession to the bloc could take many years.

7:02am: UK says Russia has likely ordered troops’ withdrawal from Kharkiv

Britain‘s defence ministry said on Monday that Russia has likely ordered the withdrawal of its troops from the entirety of occupied Kharkiv Oblast west of the Oskil River.

The UK defence ministry said in a regular update that Ukraine has recaptured territory at least twice the size of Greater London, and that “the rapid Ukrainian successes have significant implications for Russia’s overall operational design”.

3:05am: Western arms production to ramp up as Ukraine burns through stockpiles

Western governments are mobilising their arms manufacturers to ramp up production and replenish stockpiles heavily diminished by supplying Ukraine’s six-month-old battle against Russia’s invasion.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced this week a meeting of senior national armaments directors from allied countries to make long-term plans for supplying Ukraine and rebuilding their own arms reserves.

“They will discuss how our defense industrial bases can best equip Ukraine’s future forces with the capabilities that they need,” he said at a meeting at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany of the Ukraine Contact Group, 50 countries currently supporting the war effort.

On Friday, the Pentagon‘s arms acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said the meeting would take place in Brussels on September 28.

The goal is to determine “how we can continue to work together to ramp up production of key capabilities and resolve supply chain issues and increase interoperability and interchangeability of our systems”, LaPlante told reporters at the Pentagon.

12:05am: Ukraine accuses Russia of attacking power grid in revenge for offensive

Ukraine accused the Russian military of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a rapid weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops that forced Russia to abandon its main bastion in the Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian officials said targets of the retaliatory attacks included water facilities and a thermal power station in Kharkiv, and caused widespread blackouts.

“No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.

Moscow denies its forces deliberately target civilians.

Zelensky has described Ukraine’s offensive in the northeast as a potential breakthrough in the six-month-old war, and said the winter could see further territorial gains if Kyiv received more powerful weapons.

In the worst defeat for Moscow’s forces since they were repelled from the outskirts of the capital Kyiv in March, thousands of Russian soldiers left behind ammunition and equipment as they fled the city of Izyum, which they had used as a logistics hub.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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