KYIV: Ukrainian forces have recaptured another formerly Russian-held settlement on the southern front between the two armies, the military said today.
“Defence forces returned Rivnopil under our control. Let’s push on,” deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar posted on Telegram, referring to a rural community in the Donetsk region.
A separate video posted on Facebook showed soldiers of Ukraine’s 31st separate mechanised brigade posing with their national flag in front of a ruined cottage.
One of the soldiers said that Rivnopil had been liberated yesterday when Moscow’s forces “fled”.
“We move forward,” he added.
This month Ukraine launched a counter-offensive against the Russian troops occupying around a fifth of its territory in the south and east of the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has admitted that the advance has not gone as fast as had been hoped, despite Ukraine starting to deploy more western-supplied weapons and tanks.
But there has been a breakthrough in the Mokri Yaly river valley, south of Velika Novosilka in the Donetsk, and the recapture of Rivnopil would link up territory seized in this advance.
Russian forces had confirmed that there was fighting for Rivnopil on June 16, two weeks after the official launch of Ukraine’s summer counter-offensive.
Earlier, in a summary of last week’s fighting, Maliar said another 17sq km had been liberated, bringing the total to 130sq km.
The biggest pocket of reclaimed territory is south of the war-ruined coal mining town of Vugledar, the area including Rivnopil.
But Ukraine has also launched operations pushing towards Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region, and is battling further north in Donetsk to secure the flanks around the city of Bakhmut.