Ukraine says at least eight villages recaptured
Ukrainian forces have liberated a key village in the southern region of Kherson, hastening another Russian military retreat.
The defence ministry in Kyiv posted a video showing the 35th marine brigade hoisting a Ukrainian flag above Davydiv Brid, amid reports of several other nearby villages being recaptured.
Russian forces have already been forced to retreat in Ukraine’s north-east.
They are now being pushed back in the south as well.
Their latest setbacks came as President Vladimir Putin was due to sign into force decrees annexing four Ukrainian regions, while war was raging in all four.
The annexation has no legitimacy under international law and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared them null and void.
President Joe Biden spoke with Zelensky on Tuesday and assured him the US would never recognise Russian annexation. They also discussed $625m of US aid, including Himars rocket launchers.
Russia still controls Kherson city, the regional capital, in the south. But its grip is looking increasingly shaky on the entire area north of the River Dnieper, known as Dnipro in Ukrainian.
In the past 48 hours, Ukrainian forces have pushed south along the west bank of the river, and Russian units have now been forced to pull back from several settlements in the north of Kherson region too.
Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had made “fast, powerful movements” in southern Ukraine and liberated “dozens of settlements” this week alone.
“The Ukrainian flag flies again over the village of Davydiv Brid,” Ukraine’s defence ministry proclaimed on social media. Residents filmed Ukrainian soldiers walking through the village.
In his Tuesday evening address, Zelensky said the villages of Lyubimivka, Khreshchenivka, Zolota Balka, Bilyaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka Oleksandrivka and Mala Oleksandrivka had also been liberated, and that that was “far from being the whole list”.
Ukraine’s deputy interior minister Yevhen Enin said 50 towns and villages had been recaptured and some 3 500 citizens freed in Kherson, but did not say over what period.
The defence ministry said later that Russian forces were demoralised and trying to destroy bridges in an attempt to slow down the Ukrainian advance.
A Kremlin-installed official in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, told residents: “There is no reason to panic.”
There was no immediate confirmation that villages to the north-east of Davydiv Brid had also fallen and Russia’s military spokesman made no mention of losses there.
But on maps used to illustrate Russian control, it was clear that it no longer included the villages of Arkhanhelske and Velyka Oleksandrivka in the north-east of the region, and of Dudchany on the bank of the Dnieper. (BBC)