Russian Invasion: Ukrainians claim back some territory

 

By Hanna Arhirova and Yuras Karmanau | The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine >> Ukrainian forces Friday claimed new success in their counter offensive against Russian forces in the country’s east, taking control of a sizable village and pushing toward an important transport junction. The United States’ top diplomat and the head of NATO noted the advances but cautioned that the war is likely to drag on for months.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his troops.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy commended the military for its gains in the east, saying in a nightly video address that Ukrainian troops have reclaimed more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region since the start of the counteroffensive there this week.

“We are gradually taking control over more settlements, returning the Ukrainian flag and protection for our people.” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine’s military said it also launched new attacks on Russian pontoon bridges used to bring supplies across the Dnieper River to Kherson, one of the largest Russian-occupied cities, and the adjacent region. Ukrainian artillery and rocket strikes have left all regular bridges across the river unusable, the military’s southern command said.

Anxiety increased about Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which was operating in emergency mode Friday for the fifth straight day due to the war. That prompted the head of the UN atomic watchdog to call for the establishment of an immediate safety zone around the plant to prevent a nuclear accident.

The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant came under the control of Russian forces early in the war but is being operated by Ukrainian staff. The plant and surrounding areas have been repeatedly hit by shelling that Russia and Ukraine blame on each other. The last power line connecting the plant to the Ukrainian electricity grid was cut Monday, leaving the plant without an outside source of electricity. It is receiving power for its own safety systems from the only reactor — out of six total — that remains operational.

In other advances, the Ukrainian military said it took control of the village of Volokhiv Yarin the Kharkiv region and aimed to advance toward the strategically valuable town of Kupiansk, which would cut off Russian forces from key supply routes.

Pro-Russian authorities in the Kupiansk district announced that civilians were being evacuated toward the Russian-held region of Luhansk.

“The initial signs are positive and we see Ukraine making real, demonstrable progress in a deliberate way,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels, a day after visiting Kyiv.

“But this is likely to go on for some significant period of time,” he said.

“There are a huge number of Russian forces in Ukraine and unfortunately, tragically, horrifically, President (Vladimir) Putin has demonstrated that he will throw a lot of people into this at huge cost to Russia.”

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