Ukrainian army raises flag at railway junction as advance risks turning into rout

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  • Ukraine’s breakthrough is fastest in months
  • Thousands of Russian troops face potential siege

KIEV, Ukraine/Hrakov, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Ukrainian officials shared photos on Saturday showing the army raising its flag over a major railway city that supplies Russian troops in northeastern Ukraine as The collapse of the Russian front has the potential to turn into a rout.

A Reuters reporter saw Ukrainian police patrolling towns in a fixed area retaken by advancing Ukrainian forces in recent days, stacking ammunition boxes at locations abandoned by fleeing Russian soldiers.

The Ukrainians have now reached the city of Kupiansk, where the rail lines linking Russia and eastern Ukraine meet, and the way forward penetrates into Moscow’s main logistics route, potentially trapping thousands of Russian troops.

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Natalia Popova, adviser to the chairman of the Kharkiv Regional Council, shared on Facebook a photo of the troops raising the Ukrainian flag in front of the Kupiansk city hall. A Russian flag lay at their feet. “Kupiansk is Ukraine. Glory to the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” she wrote.

In Hrakov, one of the dozens of reoccupied villages, Reuters reporters saw burnt vehicles bearing the “Z” symbol of the Russian invasion, as well as piles of trash and ammunition at positions the Russians had apparently hastily abandoned.

“Hello everyone, we’re from Russia,” was sprayed on the wall.

Three bodies lay in white body bags in the yard.

Regional police chief Volodymyr Tymoshenko said Ukrainian police had moved the previous day and checked the identities of local residents who had been living under Russian occupation since the second day of the invasion.

“The first function is to provide the help they need. The next job is to document the crimes committed by the Russian invaders in the territories they temporarily occupied.”

If confirmed, capturing at least part of Kupiansk could leave thousands of Russian soldiers trapped on the front lines and cut off supplies. Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation in the city.

Ukraine has seized swathes of territory in the east in recent days, the fastest progress since defeating a Russian attack on the capital Kyiv in March.

In a video address overnight, President Vladimir Zelensky said at least 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region had been liberated.

“Our military, intelligence and security are active in several areas of operations. They are doing it successfully,” he said in a video address.

Moscow acknowledged that its front had capitulated in Kharkiv, but said it was sending additional troops to strengthen the area.

Vitaliy Ganchev, the head of the Russian-established government in the occupied part of the province, described the development as a victory for Ukraine and called on civilians to flee.

Ukrainian officials have released a series of photos showing troops sweeping into towns previously controlled by Russia and being embraced by local residents who have been under Russian military occupation for six months.

The Ukrainian offensive threatens to encircle thousands of Russian troops in Izium, the main stronghold and logistical base in the northeastern part of the Russian front.

Russians in Izium are almost isolated, Oleksi Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, said in a video posted on YouTube.

Reuters could not immediately verify reports describing the situation in Izium. Gancev, a Russian-appointed regional official, included Izium among the cities he said civilians should evacuate.


Progress in Ukraine has been the fastest in months so far, after the war has turned into a relentless grind along deeply entrenched fronts.

The Ukrainian attack in the east came as a surprise just a week after Ukraine announced the start of a long-awaited counterattack to retake Russian-occupied territory hundreds of kilometers away on the other side of the Kherson front in the south.

There is less public information about the operation, but Kyiv also claims some success there, cutting off supply routes for thousands of Russian troops isolated on the west bank of the Dnieper.

“We’re seeing success now in Kherson, we’re seeing some success in Kharkiv, and that’s very, very encouraging,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a news conference in Prague on Thursday.

Since the launch of what Moscow called a “special military operation” to “disarm” Ukraine, tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions have been driven from their homes and Russian troops have devastated entire cities. Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians.

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Reporting by Reuters reporter; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Jason Neely

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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