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Ukrainian forces press southward, say strategic village recaptured from Russians

The village lies to the south of a cluster of small settlements that Ukraine recaptured along the Mokri Yaly River as the counteroffensive began.

“Our defenders are now continuing to clear the settlement,” said Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar declaring Staromaiorske liberated.

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.

Zelenskyy has said that the counteroffensive is proceeding more slowly than he would like but warned people not to expect rapid results akin to a movie scene.

Zelenskyy on Wednesday had obliquely hailed “very good results” on the battlefield, while giving no details.

PRESIDENT TOURS EAST, SOUTH

On Thursday, he toured southern and eastern regions, including the major city of Dnipro and the port of Odesa, where he discussed damage to port facilities from Russian air strikes, and the town of Ochakiv, subject to frequent Russian shelling.

In his nightly video address, he said little about the front, other than praising the recapture of Staromaiorske.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleksandr Kovalenko said the new focus of Ukrainian efforts on the southward drive was Staromlynivka, a village less than 5km away.

“It really serves as a stronghold for the Russian occupiers, the peak of the second defensive line in this location,” he said in an interview with the RBC UA media outlet.

The drive southward is aimed at severing the land bridge Russian forces have created linking areas occupied in the east in the 17-month-old invasion and Crimea – annexed in 2014.

Despite gains achieved by Ukrainian troops, mostly in the northeast and far south late last year, Russia still holds about 20 per cent of Ukraine’s land.

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