Freed Ukrainian residents rejoice as Russian troops ‘flee’ from key city of Kharkiv

Kyiv – Ukrainian troops have made considerable progress, raising their flag again in several towns and villages in the northeast of the country that were, until recently, occupied by invading Russian forces. The Ukrainian army claims to have recovered an area the size of Rhode Island since the beginning of September alone.

As CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reports, the Ukrainians’ recent successes on the battlefield around their country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, have been among their biggest since crushing the attempted Vladimir Putin’s army to capture the capital Kyiv at the start of the war. Their counteroffensive, concentrated largely around Kharkiv, has already recaptured about 1,000 square miles of territory Ukraine had lost since Putin launched his invasion on February 24.

Ukrainian forces swept through the northeast with breathtaking speed and, as Patta reports, they are greeted like conquering heroes, with civilians rushing to offer flowers, hugs and tears of joy.


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Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag flies high again in liberated towns and villages across the region, as the country’s troops advance north, just 30 miles from the Russian border.

It’s a humiliating defeat for Putin’s men as they are forced to flee, abandoning key supply centers like Kupyansk and Izyum as they go.

“The Russians were here,” said local resident Dmytro Hrushchenko. “Then they suddenly started screaming wildly and running away, charging into their tanks.”

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A Ukrainian soldier walks past a damaged Russian tank during a battle in newly liberated territory on the Balakleya road in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, September 11, 2022.

PA


For those who lived under the Russian occupation, it was more than six months of hell.

“I was very scared the whole time,” said Maria Hryhorora, another resident of a liberated city. “I can still see the image of a huge pool of blood in front of my eyes.”

As Russian troops fled, fearful of being surrounded and captured, they left behind the usual trail of destruction, devastation – and the possibility of new crime scenes for police to investigate as they begin the task now. horribly familiar to dig up the bodies of civilians allegedly killed by the invading forces.

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Ukrainian police work during the exhumation of the unidentified bodies of people who were allegedly killed by Russian troops in the village of Grakovo, recently liberated by the Ukrainian army, in the Kharkiv region on September 9, 2022.

Andrii Marienko/AP


As Moscow ordered its soldiers to withdraw from the vicinity of Kharkiv – with the saving explanation that it was to reinforce the front line further south-east – they delivered a horrible parting gift: a strike of the missile hit a thermal power plant which left the area under a partial blackout overnight.

Patta says that while Ukrainians were certainly emboldened by the steady supply of Western military aidno one in the country has the illusion that the war will end quickly, and they say they need more heavy weapons to keep the momentum going.

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