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Zelensky tour of Ukraine recently recaptured, devastated city

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IZIUM, Ukraine (TN) — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday visited the recently recaptured city of Izium, greeted soldiers and thanked them for their efforts to retake the area, as Ukraine’s flag The burnt City Hall was raised in front of the building. ,

Russian forces abandoned the war-torn city last week as Ukraine advanced in a massive counteroffensive that reclaimed vast areas of territory in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv region within days.

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Much of Izium has been devastated. Apartment buildings are blackened by fire and startled by artillery attacks. The entire center of a residential building had collapsed, leaving a crater and piles of rubble where the houses used to be.

“This scene is very shocking but it is not shocking to me,” Zelensky said in brief remarks to the press, “because we started seeing the same pictures from Buka from the first de-occupied areas… “

Buka is a neighborhood near Kyiv where bodies of civilians were dumped on the streets, in mass graves and in yards, many of them with signs of torture, after the hasty withdrawal of Russian forces in March.

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On the northern outskirts of Izium, the remains of Russian tanks and vehicles are scattered along the road.

“Our soldiers are here. This is very important thing. It supports the people,” said Zelensky.

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Ukrainian troops have recently launched a dramatic retaliation that has allowed them to retake large areas around Kharkiv and inflict a surprise blow on Moscow’s military reputation.

Following those gains, a new frontline in the war is beginning to emerge, a Washington-based think tank said on Wednesday.

The Institute for the Study of War said that the Oskil River is forming a new front line in the region after Kyiv’s significant gains in recent days.

The Oskil River flows south and largely represents the eastern edge of the Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

“Ukrainian forces are continuing ground attacks at the local level to jeopardize the Russian position behind the Oskil river,” the institute said.

“Russian troops are unlikely to be strong enough to stop further Ukrainian advances along the entire Oskil River as they are not receiving reinforcements, and the Ukrainian Army will likely use this weakness to resume a counter-attack at Oskil. Will be able to take advantage if they choose to,” it added.

The retaliatory strike also left more weapons in the hands of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian think tank said on Wednesday that the Russian military had left behind dozens of tanks, armored personnel carriers and other heavy weapons as they fled Ukraine’s advance into the country’s east.

The Center for Defense Strategies said a single Russian unit based around Izium overtook 39 T-80 tanks and 35 infantry fighting vehicles, known as BMPs. Another unit left behind 47 tanks and 27 armored vehicles.

The center said Russian forces tried to destroy some of the abandoned vehicles through artillery strikes as they fell back. Typically, armed forces destroy equipment left behind so that their opponents cannot use it.

However, the chaos of the Russian withdrawal clearly saw them leaving behind untouched ammunition and weapons.

In other regions, Russia has continued its attacks in the past, raising the death toll in a war that has now lasted more than seven months.

Ukraine’s presidential office said Wednesday morning that at least seven civilians were killed and 22 others injured in Russian shelling in seven regions of Ukraine over the past 24 hours.

Regional government Vitaly Kim said two people were killed and three wounded after Russia attacked Mykolaiv with S-300 missiles overnight. An educational institution, infrastructure items and residential buildings were damaged. The settlements near the front line in the Mykolaiv area are constantly on fire.

The Nikopol region, which is across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, was shelled three times during the night, but no immediate casualties were reported, regional government Valentin Reznichenko said. The city of Nikopol itself was shelled twice and about 3,000 families were left without electricity. Reznichenko said electricity had been partially restored.

Demolition is underway in the Kharkiv region, where the Ukrainian military has recaptured more than 300 towns and villages; Three people have been injured in the last 24 hours.

In the neighboring Luhansk region, where some Russian troops withdrew from the Kharkiv region, mobile internet has been shut down, and intense shelling by Ukrainian forces continues, according to the region’s governor, Serhi Haidai.

Fighting continued in the Donetsk region as well. Avdiivka, Bakhmut and Kramatorsk have been hit by the shelling, in which five civilians were killed and 16 others were injured.

“Every night in the Donbass is restless. Citizens must leave the area. It is a matter of life and death,” said Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrilenko.

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John Gambrel in Kyiv contributed.

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