Ukraine’s forces regained full control of the region around capital city Kyiv on Saturday for the first time since Russia invaded the country at the end of February, according to a Ukrainian official.
Hanna Malyar, the deputy minister for Ukraine’s defense ministry, shared the news in a Facebook post. Malyar said Ukrainians should still refrain from returning to their homes, citing ongoing efforts to clear the area, including from leftover mines.
Earlier this week, Russia said it was withdrawing forces from around Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv, but President Biden expressed skepticism about the claim and the Pentagon said Moscow was actually “repositioning” troops.
“We believe this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine. It does not mean the threat to Kyiv is over,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday.
Ukrainian and Russian negotiators met this week for peace talks in Turkey as the war has stretched on for more than a month, pushing more than four million Ukrainians to flee the country and resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
Ukrainians have put up a stiff resistance to the invasion, however, killing as many as 15,000 Russian troops — reportedly including multiple high-ranking officers — by late March, according to NATO estimates. The Kremlin has reported significantly lower casualty numbers.
Around Kyiv, the British Ministry of Defense said early on Saturday that Ukrainian troops were attempting to advance from Irpin toward Bucha and Hostomel northwest of the capital and had retook several villages to its east.
Russian troops had also reportedly withdrawn from the Hostomel airport, located northwest of the capital, according to the British ministry.
Towns around Kyiv were read with destroyed Russian tanks, Reuters reported on Saturday. Ukrainian adviser presidential Okeksiy Arestovych said Ukraine has recaptured more than 30 towns and villages this week in the region.
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