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Russia denies losing village to Ukraine forces
Published on: Monday, September 18, 2023
By: []
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Russia denies losing village to Ukraine forces
Burning trucks following Russian drone attacks in Odesa region.
Moscow: Russia at the weekend denied its forces had been pushed out of the frontline village of Andriivka, near Bakhmut, a day after Ukraine said it had “liberated” it, inflicting heavy losses.

Andriivka is around 14 kilometres (nine miles) south of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, where Kyiv has been pushing back against Moscow’s forces since June.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Friday that the village was back under Ukrainian control.

But in its daily bulletin, Russia’s defence ministry said that “the enemy... continues to carry out assaults... trying in vain to dislodge Russian troops in the localities of Andriivka and Klishchiivka”.

The statement adds to the confusion surrounding the situation on the ground in the village, which had just a few dozen residents before Russia’s offensive.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Ganna Malyar had to backtrack on an announcement earlier that day that Kyiv had retaken Andriivka, after troops there said fighting was still going on.

Then on Ukrainian television Friday, a spokesman for a brigade fighting in the area said the village had been “completely destroyed”, adding that “Andriivka no longer exists”.

A video posted by his brigade on Telegram, showed Ukrainian soldiers advancing between charred trees and ruins.

Bakhmut, the nearby city that was once home to around 70,000 people, was captured by Russian forces in May following one of the longest and bloodiest battles of Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian forces, however, almost immediately began pushing back around the northern and southern flanks of the city and have been posting incremental gains.

On Saturday, officials in the Russian-occupied zone said five civilians had been killed and another wounded by Ukrainian strikes on Donetsk and Svitlodarsk, 30 kilometres southwest of Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, the first cargo ships are heading to Ukraine to load grain for African and Asian markets since the collapse of a deal with Russia to ensure the safety ships exporting via the Black Sea, a Kyiv official said at the weekend. In July, Russia scuppered a key deal brokered by the UN and Turkey that guaranteed safe passage for grain shipments from Ukrainian ports, and stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure.

In August, Ukraine announced the establishment of a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade. Since then, five vessels have used the corridor to exit Ukraine’s ports.

“The first civilian ships used the temporary corridor to enter Ukrainian ports,” Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a statement on Facebook.

He said the two ships, the Resilient Africa and Aroyat, were en route to load nearly 20,000 tonnes of wheat for African and Asian countries. “The vessels are under the flag of Palau,” he added.

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