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Ukraine says its troops have marched further east into territory recently abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential assault on Moscow’s occupying forces in the Donbass region as Kyiv seeks more western weapons. “The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday evening, adding that he was now focusing on “speed” in the liberated areas. Follow the FRANCE 24 live blog for all the latest news. All times are in Paris time (GMT+2).

05:15: Ukrainian soldiers applaud rapid advance in Donbass

“We were ready to fight. But for them to abandon the whole front line… We really didn’t expect that,” said a Ukrainian soldier.

Among the items left behind by Russian soldiers were weapons, ammunition, photos of Lenin and Playboy pin-ups, as FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg and Gwendoline Debono report from Izium in the video below.


Ukrainian servicemen ride on an armored personnel carrier and a tank as Russia’s att*ck on Ukraine continues near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian armed forces, in the Kharkiv region , in Ukraine, on September 19, 2022. © Gleb Garanich, Reuters

September 20, 12:18 a.m.: Ukrainian troops push the counteroffensive deeper into the Donbass

Ukraine says its troops have marched further east into territory recently abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential assault on Moscow’s occupying forces in the Donbass region as Kyiv seeks more western weapons.

In a sign of the nervousness of a Moscow-backed administration in the Donbass over the success of the recent Ukrainian offensive, its leader has called for urgent referendums on the region’s integration with Russia.

“The occupiers are clearly panicked,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address Monday evening, adding that his focus was now on “speed” in the liberated areas.

“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed of restoring normal life,” Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian leader also hinted that he would use a video address at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday to call on countries to speed up arms and aid deliveries.

“We are doing everything to ensure that Ukraine’s needs are met at all levels – defence, financial, economic, diplomatic,” Zelensky said.

Serhiy Gaidai, Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, a Donbass province now under the control of Russian troops, said the Ukrainian armed forces had regained full control of the Luhansk village of Bilohorivka and were preparing to fight to retake the entire province.

“There will be fights for every inch,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing his defence. So we’re not just going to go in.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

© Graphic studio France Media World

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