Ukraine fightback: City and airport retaken with 'heavy losses' for Putin's forces

7 March 2022, 14:20 | Updated: 7 March 2022, 14:35

Ukraine has retaken a city and airport as it took the fight back to the Russian forces
Ukraine has retaken a city and airport as it took the fight back to the Russian forces. Picture: Alamy/Getty/MoD/Social media

By Will Taylor

Ukraine's military says it has wrested back a city from Russian control in another blow to Vladimir Putin's invading forces.

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The armed forces said Russia suffered "heavy losses" in the fighting, in which Chuhuiv - near the strategic city of Kharkiv - was recaptured. High-ranking officers were killed in the combat, it claimed.

The Ukrainian forces' General Staff also said Russia has lost more than 11,000 troops, nearly 300 tanks, more than 40 war planes and more than 60 helicopters during 11 days of fighting.

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It said in a Facebook post: "The Defence Forces continues to conduct a defence operation in the South, East and North. In the course of hostilities, the city of Chuhuiv was liberated.

"The occupiers suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment."

Kyiv's success has not been limited to the eastern region, too. A regional governor said its forces have have taken back a regional airport in Mykolayiv, in the south, where Russia has managed to seize swathes of territory from Crimea, which it annexed by force from Ukraine in 2014.

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The general staff said: "The eleventh day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion is over.

"The enemy continues the offensive operation against Ukraine, focusing on the encirclement of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mykolayiv, reaching the administrative borders in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, creating a land corridor with the TOT [temporarily occupied territory] of Crimea in the direction of Mariupol - Novoazovsk.

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"The invaders did not achieve the ultimate goal of eleven days of occupation."

Russia has told Ukraine the onslaught, including the killing of civilians, will end ‘in a moment’ if Kyiv agrees to Kremlin demands.

Russia wants Ukraine to cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent territories.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “They were told that all this can be stopped in a moment.”

The two sides are meeting together later for further talks.

The Kremlin insists Russia is not seeking to make any further territorial claims on Ukraine.

Among the Russian losses during the fighting were a lieutenant colonel in a Russian marine brigade and a lieutenant colonel in an air assault unit, the staff said.

They add to high-profile reported casualties in recent days, including a general, leading to speculation over whether Moscow's troops are moving senior commanders closer to the frontline to get the stalling invasion rolling again.

Ukrainian forces retook Chuhuiv, in the east of the country
Ukrainian forces retook Chuhuiv, in the east of the country. Picture: Google Maps

The staff said, on top of the personnel, tank and aircraft losses, the Russians have also lost some 1,000 armoured fighting vehicles, 117 artillery pieces, 50 rocket launch weapons and 23 anti-aircraft systems.

A fresh UK Ministry of Defence [MoD] map makes clear the Russian invasion manoeuvres, with arrows demonstrating how forces on different axes are trying to encircle Kyiv, while the southern front has seen them take major gains.

The MoD warned on Monday that Russia is likely trying to attack communication infrastructure to cut Ukrainians off from the news, while the Kremlin clamps down on independent reporting at home. It threatened people spreading "fake news" with up to 15 years in jail.

It has been particularly keen to portray its mission as a special military operation to "demilitarise" and "de-nazify" the country, while Western observes fear Putin wants to overthrow the democratically-elected government led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Moscow said it would hold fire on Monday to allow civilians to escape cities its forces are besieging. It has been accused of breaking previous bids to enforce a ceasefire and of using the pauses as a chance to prepare its troops for more attacks.

However, Ukraine later claimed Russia was only allowing escapees to go to Russia or Belarus, the country largely in hock with Putin, which has allowed the Kremlin's military to launch attacks from its territory.

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