Ukraine boasts victory in Luhansk Oblast as Zelensky’s troops retake 20% of key city

Ukraine: Footage appears to show Russian tanks hit by artillery

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The announcement comes at the time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine has completed 100 days.

Sergiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, told national television that Ukrainian troops had retaken 20 percent of the territory they had lost in Sievierodonetsk.

On Friday, he said that it was “not realistic” the city would fall in the next two weeks even though Russian reinforcements were being deployed.

He said: “As soon as we have enough Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions.

“And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will just run.”

However, Reuters could not immediately verify his claim of Ukrainian advances.

The war that Western governments believed Russia planned to win within a few hours of its February invasion entered its 100th day on Friday.

Thousands have died, millions have been uprooted from their homes and the global economy disrupted since Moscow’s forces were driven back from Kyiv in the first months of the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied on Friday that Moscow was preventing Ukrainian ports from exporting grains, blaming rising global food prices on the West.

He said on national television: “We are now seeing attempts to shift the responsibility for what is happening on the world food market, the emerging problems in this market onto Russia.”

He insisted the best solution would be for Western sanctions on Russia’s ally Belarus to be lifted and for Ukraine to export grain through that country.

While Ukraine’s resistance has forced Putin to narrow his immediate goal to conquering the entire Donbas region, Ukrainian officials said he remains intent on subduing the whole country.

Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar told national television on Friday: “Putin’s main goal is the destruction of Ukraine.

“He is not backing down from his goals, despite the fact that Ukraine won the first stage of this full-scale war.”

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Moscow has poured troops and materiel into the battle for Sievierodonetsk, which Russia must overrun to take all of Luhansk, one of two provinces that comprise the eastern Donbas region that the Kremlin has stated it intends to capture.

Reuters reached Sievierodonetsk on Thursday and was able to verify that Ukrainians still held part of the city.

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