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Ukrainian forces have penetrated into Russian-occupied areas in northern Donetsk, which the British Ministry of Defense said “puts pressure on territory which Russia considers essential to its war aims”.
Fighting in northern Donestk has been described as “ongoing” as Ukrainian forces launch a counteroffensive on the town of Lyman, which has been occupied by Russia since May.
Lyman lies about 30 miles west of Izyum in the northeast Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian troops made significant gains this month by retaking the majority of occupied territory and forcing Russian soldiers to retreat.
Ukraine has announced control of the entire region west of the Oskil River, where territory remains disputed from east of Kharkiv to the Luhansk regions.
UKRAINIANS IN KREMLIN-BACKED TERRITORY VOTE TO JOIN RUSSIA IN ‘SHAM REFERENDA’
“Russia attempted to ‘integrate’ Oskil into a consolidated defensive line after its forces withdrew earlier this month,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday.
However, over the past three days Ukrainian forces have ‘secured bridgeheads on the eastern bank’ of the Separation River, suggesting they may be better placed to retake the rest of Kharkiv before advancing towards Lugansk. .
The ministry’s announcement comes as Russia launches referendums in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, despite intense fighting in all four regions.
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Kharkiv was previously on the list of regions that Russia intended to annex.
Western officials condemned Moscow’s drive to illegally seize Ukrainian territory by holding what they called “mock” elections in eastern and southern Ukraine.
The “voting” will begin on Friday and the polling stations will be open on Tuesday.
According to Russian state-owned media, RIA, the question on the ballot is: “Do you support secession from Ukraine, formation of the region as an independent state and joining Russia? ?
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Preliminary results would be released Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the election a “farce” and Western officials have repeatedly pointed to a similar step taken by Russia during its 2014 invasion of Crimea.