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Ukrainian forces clawback territory held by Russia since 2014: UK intel

Ukrainian forces appear to have broken through Russian lines into the Donbas region that Moscow had previously controlled since 2014, British intelligence said Tuesday.

The British Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian airborne forces have made “small advances” east of the village of Krasnohorivka, near Donetsk, which previously sat on the “old Lines of Control.”

Russian-backed forces under the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic had been fighting with Ukrainian military forces in the eastern region for eight years in the lead up to Russia’s February 2022 invasion. 

Donetsk fighting

Ukrainian military member fires with RPG-7 during military training on May 31, 2023 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. Bakhmut and its surroundings continue to be places of most fierce fighting since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. (Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

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The ministry did not specify when the advancement took place but noted that the breakthrough was one of the first instances where Ukrainian forces had “highly likely” recaptured an area occupied by Russian forces since 2014. 

“Recent multiple concurrent Ukrainian assaults throughout the Donbas have likely overstretched Donetsk People’s Republic and Chechen forces operating in this area,” the ministry reported in its daily briefing. 

However, advancements in the Donbas are not the only areas where Ukrainian forces appear to be making strides. 

Earlier this month, Ukraine launch what is expected to be a substantial counter-offensive that will largely focus on recapturing territory in southern Ukraine with a focus in the Zaporizhzhia region – which Western analysts have said is vital in Ukraine’s efforts to oust Russian forces from Ukraine. 

Zaporizhzhia fighting

Ukrainian servicemen of the 47th Magura Separate Mechanised Brigade fire a BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system toward Russian troops near a front line, amid Russia’s attack in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine June 25, 2023. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS)

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Russian forces rely heavily on logistical routes that run through the Zaporizhzhia region, which supply Moscow’s troops in not only southern Ukraine, but parts of eastern Ukraine.

The defense ministry reported Wednesday that on June 22, Ukrainian forces struck the Chonhar road bridges that run between the Crimean Peninsula and the Russian-occupied Kherson region, directly west of the Zaporizhzhia region.

“The route over the Chonhar bridges are the most direct route from Russia’s Crimean logistics hub at Dzhankoi and the Zaporizhzhia sector, where Russia is currently defending against a major Ukrainian offensive,” the ministry said. 

The bridges, which service logistical routes between Crimea and Kherson, were temporarily closed and slowed supplies to Russian forces in the area by 50%.

A Ukrainian serviceman of the 47th Magura Separate Mechanised Brigade sits inside a M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle at a position near a front line, amid Russia’s attack in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine June 25, 2023.

Though the ministry also noted that the closures were temporary, and a pontoon bridge was likely erected within 24-hours to provide military transport.

“The speed with which an alternate crossing was constructed indicates how vital this route is to the Russian military efforts in occupied Ukraine,” the defense ministry said.

Zelenskyy championed Ukraine’s advancements in his nightly address Tuesday and said, “Today – the front. Donetsk region, Zaporizhzhia…our warriors have advanced in all directions, and this is a happy day.”

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