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Russia humiliated as Ukraine 'claims control of key area' after Putin ceasefire offer


Ukraine’s army may have dealt a heavy blow to Russian troops as it has claimed to have “stopped” Vladimir Putin’s forces from advancing further into the Kharkiv region and started a counterattack.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged his soldiers have secured “combat control” of northern areas of the region where their Russian counterparts had launched an incursion earlier this month.

Mr Zelensky said during his evening address to his country on May 24: “Our soldiers have now managed to take combat control of the border area where the Russian occupiers entered.”

The Ukrainian leader’s remarks seemingly clashed with comments made by Russian officials, including Viktor Vodolatskiy, a member of Russia‚Äôs lower house of parliament.

The politician recently claimed his country’s troops were controlling more than half of the territory of Vovchansk, a town three miles into the Kharkiv border, and were looking to secure it before moving against bigger targets.

In its evening report, the Ukrainian army acknowledged the situation in Vovchansk was “tense” – but added defence forces were “controlling” it, despite the “air terror” attacks launched by Russia.

Ukrainian commander-in-chief, Oleksandr Syrsky, suggested the Russian attempt to seize the town is draining Moscow’s forces in the area.

Despite being initially successful in their push, Russian forces “got completely bogged down in street battles for Vovchansk and suffered very high losses in assault units”.

Russia “is currently moving reserves from different sectors to support active assault operations, but to no avail”, he added.

Reports Russia’s push had slowed down were seemingly supported by Ukrainian military bloggers, claiming Russian forces were firing from a distance rather than using more infantry in the area.

The Russian assault against Kharkiv began on May 10, when thousands of troops stormed the region’s border, raising fears the Kremlin was aiming at gaining control of Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Kyiv acknowledged that, while it was holding its own in Kharkiv, Russia was making gains on the eastern front.

Express.co.uk isn’t able to verify the battlefield accounts made by Kyiv and Moscow.

This comes amid reports Putin is willing to halt the conflict with a negotiated ceasefire recognising the current battlefield lines, a condition unlikely to be accepted by Kyiv.

During a press conference in Minsk with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, the Russian President tried to undermine Mr Zelensky and Kyiv’s decision not to hold for the time being an election in the war-torn nation, claiming his term in power had ended on May 20.

Putin claimed: “Of course, we are aware that the legitimacy of the current head of state has ended. We must be completely sure that we are dealing with legitimate authorities.”

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