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Russia Orders Troops To Withdraw From Front Line Positions After Shock Ukrainian Advance

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Ukrainian forces, backed by increasingly powerful Western weapons, have captured hundreds of square miles of territory from Russian control in the past four days across the Kharkiv region, as the Russian line collapsed.

Russia has ordered its troops to withdraw from two front line positions in eastern Ukraine in the face of a shock advance by Ukrainian forces.

The retreat on Saturday marked the most significant gain for Ukraine’s military since they defeated a Russian attempt to conquer the capital, Kyiv, back in March.

“The Russian army in these days is demonstrating the best that it can do – showing its back,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video released by his office Saturday night.

“And, of course, it’s a good decision for them to run.”

Ukrainian forces, backed by increasingly powerful Western weapons, have captured hundreds of square miles of territory from Russian control in the past four days across the Kharkiv region, as the Russian line collapsed.

Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s military had liberated around 2,000 square kilometres of territory since the counteroffensive started.

Analysis: How Ukraine blew a hole in Russia’s defences

Images on social media showed triumphant soldiers replacing Russian flags with the colours of yellow and blue in villages, towns and cities as they fell back under Ukrainian control after months of Russian occupation.

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A top Ukrainian commander said more cities would follow as he watched a flag-raising ceremony, accompanied by the national anthem, at the small city of Banakliia, which was one of the first to be recaptured.

“I am sure that this is not the last city,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said, dressed in full combat gear.

“Ahead of us is Kupiansk, which is already half taken by our troops. Ahead of us is Izyium and many others.”

Pictures have emerged of the Ukrainian flag flying over Kupiansk, which had been an important logistics hub for Russia to send supplies to its troops in the crucial southeastern Donbas region.

Images have also been posted of social media of Ukrainian troops at the gateway of Izyium – the main bastion for Russian forces in the area. It was a city was that captured by Russia during the first weeks of the war and had remained under Russian control ever since – until now.

Explaining the Russian withdrawal, defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russian troops would be regrouped from the Balakliya and Izyum areas to the Donetsk region in the Donbas.

Mr Konashenkov said the move is being made “in order to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbas”.

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