Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is reported to have said in a video address that the country’s troops have retaken 1,015 sites. The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine said on Saturday that Russia has lost 200 aircraft since its invasion.
Mr Zelensky is quoted in Ukrainian media outlet NV as saying: “We continue to restore the occupied territories of Ukraine.
“As of today, 1,015 settlements have been de-occupied, including six in the past 24 hours.
“We are restoring electricity, water, communications, transport, and social services there. This is important.”
Ukraine’s defence ministry put total Russian troop losses at 27,200 in its latest briefing. Express.co.uk has not been able to independently verify any of the figures.
There have been no reliable estimates as to the scale of Russia’s losses since it launched its invasion on February 24.
The figures come as Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izium in eastern Ukraine, according to a regional governor.
It could prove to be a serious setback for Moscow’s plans to capture the entire Donbas region.
Regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments on social media: “The hottest spot remains the Izium direction.
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Maintaining pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines should make it harder for Moscow to encircle Ukrainian troops on the eastern front.
Mr Zelensky also said complex talks were underway to find a method of evacuating a large number of wounded soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in return for the release of Russian prisoners of war.
Mariupol, which has suffered the heaviest fighting in nearly three months of war, is now in Russian hands, but hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are still holding out at the plant despite weeks of heavy Russian bombardment.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Saturday: “In Mariupol, the enemy continues to blockade our units near the Azovstal plant. [Russia] inflicts massive artillery and air strikes [and] conducts assault operations.”
It comes amid reports that the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine have been taken to a rail yard outside Kyiv and stacked with hundreds of others in a refrigerated train.
They are to be stored until a time when they can be returned to their families.
Volodymyr Lyamzin, the chief civil-military liaison officer, said: “Most of them were brought from the Kyiv region, there are some from Chernihiv region and from some other regions too.”
He added that refrigerated trains stationed in other regions across Ukraine were being used for the same grim purpose.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence said on Saturday that the Russian-imposed military-civilian administration in Ukraine’s Kherson region said it will ask Russia to include it in the Russian federation.
In its briefing, issued on Twitter, the ministry said if Russia were to carry out an accession referendum in Kherson, it will almost certainly manipulate the results to show a clear majority in favour of leaving Ukraine.
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