Day 197: Ukrainian troops liberate 20 villages in Kharkiv region, Blinken in surprise visit to Kyiv

Counteroffensive in Kharkiv region gains momentum as Ukrainian troops retake 700 square km, 20 villages

The Armed Forces of Ukraine achieved tactical surprise in the south-east of Kharkiv region where they are launching an efficient counteroffensive. 

Ukraine’s defense forces have retaken more than 700 square kilometers on the Kharkiv and Pivdennyi Buh axes, deputy head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Oleksiy Hromov said at a news conference on September 8. 

“During defense operations to recapture lost territory on the Kharkiv axis, since the start of the week, Ukraine’s Armed Forces in cooperation with the National Guard and other military units are actively fighting in defined areas.”

“In some directions, our units have penetrated into enemy’s lines by a depth of between two and several dozens of kilometers. They recaptured a number of villages.”

“The total amount of territory returned to Ukrainian control on the Kharkiv and Pivdennyi Buh axes stands at over 700 square kilometers,” Hromov said. On the Kharkiv axis, the Ukrainian troops had advanced up to 50 km into Russian defense lines and retaken more than 20 villages, he added.

On the evening of September 8, President Zelenskyi confirmed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had liberated Balakliya, in Kharkiv region. He posted to official social media channels a video address by the Ukrainian service members from the liberated town. “Everything fell in place. The Ukrainian flag flies in a free Ukrainian city under peaceful Ukrainian sky! Thank you! Proud of you! Stay safe! Forward to victory!” Zelenskyi said in a post. 

Ukraine’s counterattacks in Donbas, south

On the Kramatorsk axis, the Ukrainian Armed Forces improved their tactical position and advanced by a depth of up to two kilometers.

On the Slovyansk axis, units of the 103rd separate brigade of the territorial defense forces and units of the 15th regiment of the National Guard advanced by a depth of three kilometers and recaptured Ozerne. 

Ukraine’s defense forces continue actions on the Kherson axis. Fighting rages to improve position on the frontline.

In surprise visit to Ukraine, Blinken meets Zelenskyi, visits Irpin

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced trip to Kyiv on September 8, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi. He also visited the war-damaged city of Irpin outside Kyiv. Zelenskyi expressed gratitude for U.S. support as Ukraine resists Russia’s aggression. Some of the topics they discussed included future security guarantees for Ukraine, situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, post-war recovery, pressure on Russia, reform pace in Ukraine, and renewed exports of Ukrainian grain.

Russia should be labeled as a state sponsor of terrorism, Zelenskyi said. “We all saw reports of British volunteer Paul Urey whose body the aggressor returned. [We saw] terrifying images that prove torture. That is yet another evidence that we are dealing with a terrorist state,” the Ukrainian President said. 

Zelenskyi also awarded Blinken with the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise for his contributions to Ukraine and bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine.

Head of the Kyiv regional military administration Oleksiy Kuleba expressed gratitude to Blinken for making a visit to Irpin, as “no photo can convey the horrors of war that Russians committed in Kyiv region,” he said.

Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Defense announced a list of items in the security assistance package valued at USD 675 million. 

Capabilities in this package include additional ammunition for HIMARS systems, four 105mm howitzers and 36,000 105mm artillery rounds.  

The package also includes Additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARM); 100 Armored High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV); 1.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition; more than 5,000 anti-armor systems; 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems; additional grenade launchers and small arms; 50 armored medical treatment vehicles; and night vision devices and other field equipment.

In addition, the U.S. State Department intends to make USD two billion available in long-term investments in Foreign Military Financing: USD one billion to bolster the security of Ukraine and USD one billion for 17 of Ukraine’s regional neighbors.


Freedom of Speech as Homefront: Journalists at War. Ukraine in Flames #182

Ukrainian journalists do their best to document Russian war crimes, challenge Russian propaganda and inform Ukrainians as well as the whole world of the most important developments on the ground. Wartime journalism is a challenge that many were forced to accept, witnessing the destruction of their cities or joining the Ukrainian military for spectacular reporting from the frontlines. Ukraine In Flames #182 celebrates the efforts of Ukrainian journalists who are an important unit at the home front in our fight for freedom. 


  • Anastasia Stanko, war correspondent at Hromadske TV
  • Yurii Larin, journalist from Kharkiv
  • Anastasia Volkova, journalist from Severodonetsk
  • Olexiy Ladyka, journalist from Kramatorsk.