In its counter-offensive in the east of the country, the Ukrainian army penetrated deep into the rear of the occupying Russian troops. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed the recapture of the district town of Balakliya in the Kharkiv region. The army has liberated more than 1,000 square kilometers of Ukraine since early September, he said in his video address.
"As part of ongoing defensive operations, our heroes have already liberated dozens of settlements," he said. "Ukraine is and will be free," he promised. However, according to earlier reports, Russian troops occupied around 125,000 square kilometers in Ukraine. That is one-fifth of the country's territory, including the Crimean Peninsula.
According to Justice Minister Denys Maliuska, Ukraine wants to push through war reparations from Russia of at least 300 billion US dollars (about 300 billion euros). At the UN General Assembly, Kyiv wants to achieve a resolution as the cornerstone for an international reparation mechanism, said Maliuska on a visit to Berlin. For Ukraine, Friday is the 198th day of fighting against the Russian invasion.
Ukrainian blue and yellow is blowing over Balaklija again
The small town of Balaklija, which had a population of around 27,000 before the war, had been occupied by Russian troops for several months. As evidence of the recapture, Selenskyj published a video allegedly filmed on the town hall. In front of the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag, a soldier reported to the president about the capture of the city. "The flag of Ukraine over a free Ukrainian city under a free Ukrainian sky," Zelenskyy wrote.
Unverified Internet videos showed passers-by waving at the Ukrainian soldiers or hugging them tearfully. The administration used by Russia for the conquered areas around Kharkov claimed that Balakliya and the town of Shevchenkove were still under Russian control. The Interfax agency reported that reserves were going into battle, citing the head of administration, Andrei Alexejenko. The information was not independently verifiable.
According to the General Staff in Kyiv, the Ukrainian troops have already advanced about 50 kilometers to the east. The attack extends beyond Balakliya towards the town of Kupyansk. There is an important railway junction through which Russia supplies its troops when attacking the Donbass. In Kupyansk, the occupation administration ordered the evacuation of women and children.
The Russian military leadership was apparently surprised by the attack near Balaklija, analyzed US military expert Michael Kofman on Twitter. "Russian forces were too spread out." There are hardly any reserves there. In contrast to the rapid push to the east, Ukraine appears to be very systematic in its other counteroffensive to the south in the Kherson region.
Russian rockets hit the city of Kharkiv again at night, according to the local authorities. Several houses were hit, no one was injured.
Ukraine demands compensation from Russia
"We want compensation for all the damage that Russia has caused in Ukraine through its war of aggression," Justice Minister Maliuska told the newspapers of the Funke media group. The damage Ukraine suffered from the Russian invasion is now estimated to be much higher. But the sum of 300 billion US dollars mentioned corresponds to the balances of the Russian National Bank in the G7 countries, which were frozen as part of the sanctions. Maliuska demanded access to it and to the foreign assets of Russian state-owned companies and confiscated the property of Russian oligarchs.
Germany should provide information on how much Russian wealth is parked here, the minister said. At the same time, Germany should support the Ukrainian project in the UN General Assembly in New York. Maliuska spoke to Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) in Berlin on Thursday.
That will be important on Friday
According to the United Nations, another four ships with corn, barley and rapeseed are to leave Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. The destination ports are in Egypt, Greece, Romania and China. Since the beginning of August, Ukraine has already exported 2.37 million tons of grain. Since then, an agreement negotiated by the UN and Turkey with Moscow and Kyiv has been in effect, which lifts the month-long blockade of Ukrainian ports.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will meet his Czech colleague Jana Cernochova in Prague on Friday. The Czech Republic currently holds the EU Council Presidency. On Thursday, Austin met with representatives from several dozen countries that provide military aid to Ukraine at the Ramstein US base. The USA promised weapons for a further 675 million dollars. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv and pledged $2.2 billion in aid to Ukraine and its neighbors.