May 27, 2024

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Ukraine regains a village, but warns of trouble in the northeast of Kiev

Ukraine regains a village, but warns of trouble in the northeast of Kiev

KYIV/KOPYANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine announced on Wednesday that it had recaptured the village of Uruzhin from Russian forces in the southeast, but warned of a deteriorating situation on the northeastern front amid Russian counter-offensives.

Orozhin, on the fringes of the Donetsk region, is the first village Kiev says it has recaptured since July 27, in a sign of the challenge Ukraine faces advancing through heavily mined Russian defensive lines without strong air support.

“Urozen has been freed,” Defense Minister Hana Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app. “Our Defenders are entrenched in the suburbs.”

The village is one of several small rural settlements near the Mokry Yali River that Ukraine has declared liberated since early June, when it launched a protracted counter-offensive against Russian forces occupying swathes of the south and east.

Recapturing it would bring Kiev closer to threatening the village of Staromlynnivka, several kilometers to the south, which military analysts say is a Russian stronghold in the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not confirm the loss of Orozin in a statement on Telegram, but said its artillery and warplanes were attacking Ukrainian forces in the Orozin region.

The recovery of the village indicates that Ukraine is advancing its offensive south towards the Sea of ​​Azov with the goal of splitting the Russian occupation forces in half. Orozhen lies just over 90 km (55 miles) from the Sea of ​​Azov.

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Pressure is increasing in the northeast

Hours after Orozin’s announcement, Oleksandr Sersky, a senior Ukrainian general, said the situation on the Kobyansk front in the northeastern Kharkiv region was getting more difficult.

Russia took control of the city of Kobyansk, which had a pre-war population of about 27,000, in the early days of the February 2022 invasion before Ukrainian forces regained control of it in a lightning attack last September that embarrassed Moscow.

“Due to the complexity of the situation in the Kobyansk direction, I worked most of the day with the units leading the defense on approaches to the city,” the Ukrainian Military Information Center quoted Sersky as saying.

He added, “The enemy is trying to penetrate the defenses of our forces every day and in different directions with attack teams consisting mainly of convicts, with the aim of surrounding Kobyansk and then capturing it.”

Losing Kobyansk a second time would be a major blow to Kiev’s battlefield momentum at a time when the summer counteroffensive had so far failed to produce significant territorial gains, with the exception of villages such as Orozhin.

Regional authorities announced a mandatory evacuation of civilians near the Kobyansk front earlier this month due to daily Russian bombing.

“Only our house is standing, and there are no other intact houses left around our house,” said Oleh Yanetsky, a resident of the village of Kurilivka who was vacated by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society this week.

Kiev says its counter-offensive is progressing more slowly than it would like because of Russia’s vast minefields and prepared Russian defense lines.

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Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine, including Crimea, most of the Luhansk region, and large swathes of the Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson regions.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

(Reporting by Max Hunderer and Pavel Politiuk in Kyiv and Vitaly Henedy in Kivcharivka); Additional reporting by Lydia Kelly in Warsaw; Written by Tom Palmforth. Editing by Angus McSwan and Bernadette Boom

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