Ukraine has regained control of Kyiv region, deputy defense minister says

Ukraine has retaken the whole of the Kyiv region including several towns near its capital city, according to the country’s deputy defense minister.

Hanna Maliar said late on Saturday that the country’s armed forces had regained control of the entire provincial area from Russian forces. “Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel and the entire Kyiv region were liberated from the invader,” she said in a Facebook post – referring to suburban towns north of the capital city.

Ukraine’s national police force published a video filmed in Bucha and Hostomel, which is located near a key airport Russian forces sought to control. The video showed Ukrainian police teams in armored vehicles patrolling bombed-out neighborhoods including devastated buildings and cars.

Russia has pulled back its troops from around Kyiv in recent days after failing to breach Ukrainian defenses.

Ukrainian officials said Russia was refocusing its offensive on the Donbas region – where it supported a separatist uprising in two breakaway “republics” in 2014 – the second city Kharkiv, and other areas in the country’s east.

“In the east of our country, the situation is becoming very difficult,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech published overnight on Friday. “They are preparing for new, powerful strikes. We are preparing for an even more active defense. ”

Russia confirmed this week that it was reducing military activity near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv to focus its efforts on taking control of the Donbas.

Ukrainian and Russian claims about military actions cannot be independently verified.

Ukraine’s announcement of its military progress came as Moldova denied claims by Ukraine’s military that Russian troops

Map animation showing Russian military presence and Ukrainian counter-offensives around Kyiv

were massing in the breakaway Transnistria enclave in Moldova and mobilizing for a possible attack that could open another front in the war.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said it believed that troops based in the Russian-occupied, self-declared republic, which borders south-western Ukraine and is near the third-largest city of Odesa, were preparing to carry out “provocations ”Along the border.

But both Moldova and the separatist authorities in Transnistria denied this, with Chisinau saying it was “closely monitoring the security situation in the region”.

“At this moment, there is no information to confirm the mobilization of troops in the Transnistrian region,” Moldova’s ministry of foreign affairs said.

Transnistria’s foreign ministry said “information disseminated by the General Staff of Ukraine is absolutely untrue”.

“All military units on the territory of [Transnistria] are in places of permanent deployment and carry out their activities in a standard operating mode, ”it said, adding that troops had“ deliberately minimized even planned activities ”to avoid escalating tensions.

The threat of Russian troops based in Transnistria entering the Ukrainian conflict has been a concern for Moldovan authorities, who are also struggling to cope with the largest influx of Ukrainian refugees per capita.

In a regular update on its operations published early on Saturday, Ukraine’s military said it had “noted the redeployment of Russian troops and divisions of the so-called Transnistrian-Moldovan republic to demonstrate readiness for an attack and, possibly, military actions against Ukraine” .

Ukraine has adopted a tougher rhetorical stance towards Russia after inconclusive peace talks in Turkey where Moscow has been pressing Kyiv for territorial concessions and a commitment to neutrality.

Zelensky said in a Fox News interview that Ukraine would not give up any of its territory to Russia because its people would “not accept any outcome” other than victory.

“We do not trade our territory,” the Ukrainian president said. “The question of territorial integrity and sovereignty is out of discussion.”

Zelensky also raised the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, which would go against Moscow’s central condition for a peace agreement.

“It’s hard for us to talk about NATO because NATO does not want to admit us,” Zelensky said. “I think it’s a mistake because if we join NATO, we make NATO much stronger,” he said, adding that Ukraine was “not a weak state”.

The statements contradict what Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s negotiator, said following the talks. Medinsky claimed that Ukraine had agreed to Russia’s principal demands of not joining NATO and on refusing to host military bases.

Zelensky, who has repeatedly criticized NATO for doing too little to help Ukraine, said he had invited the US to be part of a future peace agreement in his recent conversation with President Joe Biden. Washington, he said, “is considering the proposition.”

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