Ukraine advancing in Kharkiv: deputy defense min

STORY: "The aim is to completely liberate Kharkiv region and other territories occupied by the Russian Federation. Right now, there is still fighting in Kharkiv region," Malyar said in an interview.

"Our strength lies in motivation and thorough operation planning," she said, adding that Ukraine had taken the decision to press on with its operation in the Kharkiv region due to the successes notched up so far.

Malyar was speaking on the road to Balakliia, a crucial military supply hub recaptured by Ukrainian forces late last week during a counter-offensive that forced Russian troops to flee further east. Balakliia is 46 miles southeast of Kharkiv, the regional capital and Ukraine's second largest city.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said overnight that Ukraine had now recaptured roughly 2,400 square miles of territory but he called on the West to speed up deliveries of weapons systems.

Russia, which still controls around a fifth of the country following its invasion on February 24, has responded to Kyiv's battlefield successes by shelling power stations and other key infrastructure, causing blackouts in Kharkiv and elsewhere.