| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Ukrainian flag, Russian corpses evidence of Kyiv’s advance in south

Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag fluttered over a damaged grocery store, and Russian troops lay dead in the street of the town of Neskuchne, according to Reuters journalists on Tuesday, in the first independent confirmation of Ukraine’s largest advances over Russia’s invasion in seven months.

Russia has refused to recognize any Ukrainian victories, and President Vladimir Putin stated on Tuesday that he saw no need for a new mobilization of military troops to resist the Ukrainian counteroffensive began last week.

“There is no such need today,” Putin told a televised meeting of Russian war correspondents and military bloggers when asked about another mobilization. But he added that it all depended on what Russia wanted to achieve in what it describes as a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Not a single resident could be found in Neskuchne, one of a cluster of settlements on the Mokry Yali river that Ukraine says its troops have captured in a steady advance southward into Russian-held territory since their operation began last week.

Ukrainian troops rode through the muddy streets on the back of a tank and in a pick-up truck. A warplane flew overhead, firing flares.

“Three days ago the Russian forces were still here. We chased them out of Neskuchne. Glory to Ukraine,” said Artem, a member of a Ukrainian territorial defense unit, who gave no surname. “These are Ukrainian lands.”

The mainly one- and two-storey buildings in the village, which had a population of several hundred before Russia invaded last year, had nearly all been damaged. The scene was silent, apart for the crump of artillery fire in the distance.

Reuters saw at least three dead Russian soldiers lying in the street, including one whose fly-blown body lay by an abandoned Russian military vehicle. Artem said the advancing Ukrainian troops had watched from a drone as comrades initially tried to evacuate him, only to dump him where he lay and flee.

It was the first independent confirmation of Ukraine’s advance in the area, roughly 90 km southwest of the city of Donetsk, one of several axes where it is trying to break through Russian lines.

  • Reuters