Service members inspect streets during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in Mariupol, Ukraine. File/Reuters
Making their biggest breakthrough in the south since the war began, Ukrainian forces recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said.
Ukrainian forces in the south destroyed 31 Russian tanks and one multiple rocket launcher, the military's southern operational command said in a nightly update, without providing details of where the fighting occurred.
Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.
Ukraine's army had seized back towns in a number of areas, without giving details.
The southern breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian advances in the east even as Russia has tried to raise the stakes by annexing land, ordering mobilisation, and threatening nuclear retaliation.
Ukraine has made significant advances in two of the four Russian-occupied regions Moscow last week annexed after what it called referendums — votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
In a sign Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, Reuters saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles heading on Monday to reinforce the rail hub of Lyman, retaken at the weekend, and a staging post to press into the Donbas region.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine's army had seized back towns in a number of areas, without giving details.
"New population centres have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting is going on in several sectors of the front," Zelensky said in a video address.
Ukraine has made significant advances in two of the four Russian-occupied regions.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk — one of two regions that make up the Donbas — said Russian forces had taken over a psychiatric hospital in the town of Svatovo, a target en route to recapturing the major cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk.
"There is quite a network of underground rooms in the building and they have taken up defensive positions," he told Ukrainian television.
In the south, Ukrainian troops recaptured the town of Dudchany along the west bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine's Kherson province, told Russian state television.
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