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Ukrainian banner raised inside retaken city following Russian retreat

Ukrainian banner raised inside retaken city following Russian retreat

IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — Hand on heart, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy watched his country's banner rise Wednesday above the recaptured city of Izium, making a infrequent foray outer external outside the earliest city that highlights Moscow's embarrassing retreat from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Russian forces left-hand the war-scarred city last week while Kyiv's soldiers pressed a stunning go forward that has reclaimed large swaths of territory inside Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region.

As Zelenskyy looked on accompanied by every one one other accompanied by sang the national anthem, the Ukrainian banner was raised inside front of the burned-out city hall. After almost sextet months under Russian occupation, Izium was left-hand mostly devastated, accompanied by apartment buildings blackened by blaze accompanied by every one one other accompanied by pockmarked by artillery strikes.

A gaping opening accompanied by every one one other accompanied by piles of rubble stood where one building had collapsed.

"The view is extremely shocking, nevertheless it is not shocking for me," Zelenskyy told journalists, "because we began to see the same pictures from Bucha, from the earliest de-occupied territories … the same destroyed buildings, killed people."

Bucha is a small city on Kyiv's outskirts from which Russian troops withdrew inside March. In the aftermath, Ukrainian authorities discovered the bodies of hundreds of civilians dumped inside streets, yards accompanied by every one one other accompanied by pile graves. Many bore signs of torture.

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Prosecutors said they so a lengthy way have found sextet bodies accompanied by traces of torture inside not lengthy ago retaken Kharkiv neighbourhood villages. The head of the Kharkiv prosecutor's office, Oleksandr Filchakov, said bodies were found inside Hrakove accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Zaliznyche, villages around 60 kilometers (35 miles) southeast of Kharkiv city.

"We have a dreadful painting of what the occupiers did. ... Such cities while Balakliia, Izium, are standing inside the same row while Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin," said Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, listing places where the Ukrainians have alleged Russian forces committed atrocities.

Local authorities have made similar claims inside other areas Russia formerly held, nevertheless it was not unswerving away possible to verify their information. They have not yet provided proof of potential atrocities on the scale described inside Bucha, where the number accompanied by every one one other accompanied by conditions of civilian casualties prompted international demands to press war crimes charges opposed to Russian officials.

Moscow's recent rout inside northeastern Ukraine was its largest military defeat since Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv area months ago. On the northern outskirts of Izium, the remains of Russian tanks accompanied by every one one other accompanied by vehicles lay shattered down a road.

As Zelenskyy visited, his forces pressed their counteroffensive, de-mined retaken ground accompanied by every one one other accompanied by investigated possible war crimes. He said that "life comes back" while Ukrainian soldiers return to formerly occupied villages.

The Ukrainian executive of the eastern Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said Ukrainian soldiers were preparing to retake the area, which borders the Kharkiv neighbourhood accompanied by every one one other accompanied by was has been mostly under Russian jurisdiction since July. Intense shelling of Ukrainian forces continued, he said.

Haidai told The Associated Press that Ukrainian troops were flying Ukrainian flags inside the cities of Svatove accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Starobilsk.

But inside Kreminna, another city where Ukrainians raised their flag, Russians returned Wednesday accompanied by every one one other accompanied by "tore down the (Ukrainian) flags accompanied by every one one other accompanied by are demonstrably showing that they're there," Haidai said.

A Russia-allied separatist military leader confirmed the Ukrainian go forward on the Luhansk region. Andrei Marochko, a local militia officer, said on Russian TV that the circumstances was "really difficult."

"In some places, the be in touch dash has go nearer extremely near to the borders of the Luhansk People's Republic," Marochko said, referring to the self-governing condition the separatists declared eight years ago.

The counteroffensive has left-hand additional weapons inside Ukrainian hands.

Russian forces probable left-hand behind dozens of tanks, armored personnel carriers accompanied by every one one other accompanied by other heavy weaponry while they fled Ukraine's go forward inside the east, a Ukrainian exist convinced by tank said Wednesday. The Center for Defense Strategies said one Russian part fleeing the Izium area left-hand behind additional than trio dozen T-80 tanks accompanied by every one one other accompanied by concerning while numerous infantry fighting vehicles. Another part left-hand 47 tanks accompanied by every one one other accompanied by 27 armored vehicles, it said.

The center said Russian forces tried to demolish some of the deserted vehicles into with every one other accompanied by not here of artillery strikes while they fell back. Typically, armed forces disintegration apparatus left-hand behind so their competitor can't use it. However, the chaos of the Russian withdrawal apparently forced them to renounce untouched ammunition accompanied by every one one other accompanied by weapons.

With the recent Ukrainian gains, a new front dash has emerged down the Oskil River, which mostly traces the Kharkiv region's eastern edge, a Washington-based exist convinced by tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said Wednesday.

"Russian troops are unlikely to exist strong sufficient to place an extremity to further Ukrainian advances down the entire Oskil River since they do not become perceptible to exist receiving reinforcements, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Ukrainian troops will probable exist intelligent to exploit this frailty to resume the counteroffensive across the Oskil if they choose," the organization said.

In other areas, Russia continued its attacks, causing additional casualties inside a war that has dragged on for almost septet months.

Two people were killed accompanied by every one one other accompanied by trio wounded following Russia attacked Mykolaiv accompanied by S-300 missiles overnight, geographical executive Vitaliy Kim said.

The Nikopol area, across a watercourse from the shutdown Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, was shelled trio times all over the night, accompanied by no indeed indeed injuries unswerving away reported, geographical executive Valentyn Reznichenko said.

Fighting excessively raged inside the eastern Donetsk region, where shelling killed five civilians accompanied by every one one other accompanied by wounded 16. Together, Luhansk accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Donetsk build up the Donbas, an manufacturing area that Moscow place not here to capture following an unsuccessful try to invade Kyiv.

Russian troops are targeting critical infrastructure. Eight cruise missiles aimed at aqua apparatus — maybe a dam on the Inhulets River or a reservoir — hit Zelenskyy's hometown of Kryvyi Rih, a city 150 kms (93 miles) southwest of Dnipro, the deputy head of the president's office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, reported on his Telegram channel. Zelenskyy said the strikes appeared to exist an try to flood the city. Video posted online showed elevated aqua levels on the Inhulets accompanied by every one one other accompanied by flooded city streets, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by evacuations of residents were suggested.

U.S. President Joe Biden observed Wednesday that Ukrainian forces have made "significant progress" inside recent days nevertheless added, "I exist convinced by it's going to exist a lengthy haul."

While censure of the invasion seems to exist increasing inside Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said following a phone call accompanied by Russian President Vladimir Putin, "Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that the realization has grown over there by now that this was a mistake to begin this war."

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that he had spoken accompanied by Putin concerning exporting Russian fertilizer into with every one other accompanied by not here of Ukraine's Black Sea ports to address a famine threat. The U.N. leader said at a report conference inside New York that high prices for fertilizer have reduced the planting of crops, making it critical to grow Russian exports of ammonia — a answer fertilizer constituent — by shipping it into with every one other accompanied by not here of Black Sea ports now used to transport cereal from Ukraine.

Western military accompanied by every one one other accompanied by monetary support has allowed Ukraine to retain fighting since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the Ukrainian management received additional assistance Wednesday.

An international category of creditors, including the U.S., finalized a deal to suspend Ukraine's invoice labour into with every one other accompanied by not here of the extremity of 2023, helping the country ease liquidity pressures accompanied by every one one other accompanied by grow social, health accompanied by every one one other accompanied by monetary spending.

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Arhirova reported from Kyiv. Associated Press journalist Jon Gambrell inside Kyiv contributed.

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Follow AP war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Ukrainian banner raised inside retaken city following Russian retreat

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