Ukraines upbeat counter-push: Troops in touching distance of retaking airport

Ukrainian Forces Advance Towards Bakhmut From The Southwest

Ukraine claimed to have retaken key strategic sites from Russia yesterday as it delivered an upbeat assessment of its counter-push.

Deputy Defence minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv’s forces had in the past week captured land around the eastern city of Bakhmut and the southern region of Tavria.

Other intelligence claimed that vital offshore drilling rigs in Crimea had been recaptured and Ukraine’s troops were close to retaking an airport lost in 2015.

The news came as a boost after the US warned Ukraine may have just 30 fighting days left before being held up by winter weather.

US Army General Mark Milley said the three-month counteroffensive had made “steady progress” but still faced “battles not done”.

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Ms Maliar said yesterday that Ukraine’s forces had retaken a square mile around Bakhmut and nearly two in Tavria.

Troops had liberated the village of Opytne, in the eastern Donetsk region, and enjoyed “partial success” at Novomaiorske, to the southwest, and Klishchiivka, just south of Bakhmut.

They had taken about 100 square miles in Tavria since the start of the counter-offensive three months ago, despite being held up by vast Russian trenches and minefields.

The Opytne liberation left Ukrainian troops within a couple of miles of the Donetsk region’s international airport, lost to Russian-backed separatists in 2015.

Kyiv’s GUR military intelligence said Ukraine had captured the Crimean gas and oil platforms nicknamed Boiko Towers after seven years of Russian occupation.

The facilities had been taken over after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and since last year’s invasion began, used to service Moscow’s military push.

A spokesman said: “Regaining control of the Boiko Towers was of strategic importance, and as a result Russia lost the ability to use them for military purposes.

“Russia has been deprived of the ability to fully control the Black Sea and this makes Ukraine many steps closer to regaining Crimea.”

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