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Ukraine Says It Has Recaptured 4 Villages in Donetsk in Fightback Against Russians.

Ukrainian soldiers ride a BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle near the front-line city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine [Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters.

By Editor–June 11th, 2023.

Ukraine says its troops have recaptured a fourth village in a cluster of settlements in the southeast, a day after reporting the first small gains of a counteroffensive against Russian forces.

A group of Chechen special forces agreed to be brought under the control of the Russian defence ministry, a day after the Wagner mercenary group refused the offer.

President Vladimir Putin has appealed to Russians at what he said was a “difficult time”, as the country remembers the day in 1991 when the Russian parliament formally declared sovereignty from the Soviet Union.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday gave his first formal confirmation that Ukraine’s long-awaited offensive was underway against Russian troops.

“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine. At what stage, I will not say in detail,” Zelenskyy said in a joint news conference with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Canadian leader pledged an additional $375 million in military aid to Ukraine. His country has provided some $6 billion since Russia launched a full-scale invasion more than 15 months ago.

Ukraine’s offensive has been gradually coming into focus in recent days, with ground attacks against Russian troops in three separate areas in the southeast and east of the country.

Prior to Zelenskyy’s remarks, Ukrainian leaders had declined to say whether the operation had begun. The Ukrainians have repeatedly said they will share few details about their offensive, billed as the biggest such operation since the Russian invasion in February of last year.

Meanwhile, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russian forces were beating back Ukrainian attempts to advance.

“We can clearly say the offensive has started, as indicated by the Ukrainian army’s use of strategic reserves,” Putin said during a meeting with other heads of state in the southern Russian city of Sochi. “But the Ukrainian troops haven’t achieved their stated tasks in a single area of fighting.”

Sources: NPR, BBC, AP.