The Ukrainian army successfully liberated 388 settlements and 150,000 people in Kharkiv

Ukraine has liberated 388 settlements in its Kharkiv region after launching a counter-offensive in Russian-held areas of the region earlier this month, Ukrainian officials announced on Wednesday.

About 8,500 square kilometers (3,282 sq mi) of land and 150,000 people have been liberated since the campaign began on Sept. 6, Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, said in a statement published on Facebook.

“The numbers are constantly updated because the process is dynamic,” Maliar said, according to a machine translation of her statement.

“The liberated areas still need additional security and stabilization measures to make them habitable. Therefore, official communications with numbers of liberated settlements are provided with a deliberate delay and may or may not take into account the stabilization measures implemented and therefore differ,” she added.

According to Maliar, around 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) of Ukraine’s 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) front line is in active combat.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces “are conducting a defensive operation, within the framework of which offensive actions can also be carried out,” the official said.

Russia on Sunday announced the withdrawal of its armed forces from almost all of Kharkiv.

Among the forces forced to withdraw were elements of Russia’s 1st Guards Tank Army, one of its most respected formations, according to the British MoD.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive in Kharkiv likely caught Russia by surprise, the ministry said.

Brig. US Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, also said Ukraine’s operation surprised Russia, but it did not come as a shock to Ukraine’s allies and partners.

“Certainly, since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have seen how the Ukrainians have shown remarkable adaptability and their ability to use their combat skills to great effect. So it’s not surprising to us that they moved in so quickly,” Ryder was quoted as saying in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday.

Western weapons and supplies played a role in the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, according to the general.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his counterparts in nearly 50 other nations have pledged to keep the supply chain running and increase aid that can be deployed to Ukraine’s mid- and long-term defenses, Ryder said.

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