Ukrainian forces have continued to make “significant gains” in the Kharkiv region as its counteroffensive against Russia continues.

The British Ministry of Defense said Russia had likely withdrawn units from the north-eastern region of Ukraine, in its daily intelligence update.

The shock advance of Ukrainian forces in the past four days, Russia has ordered its troops to withdraw from two front line positions, marking a significant gain for the Ukrainian military.

The country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainian army had liberated around 2,000 square kilometers of territory since the start of the counteroffensive.

While it has regained territory in the Kharkiv region, the country’s second largest city, fighting continues around the strategically important cities of Kupiansk and Izyum.

Izyum was captured by Russia early in the war and has remained under their control ever since.

Ukrainian flags have been spotted in villages, towns and cities in the eastern region.

In its update, the Defense Ministry also dismissed Russian claims as false after Vladimir Putin’s claim that only a fraction of grain exported from Ukraine under an international agreement went to poor countries.

On Wednesday, Mr Putin said only two of the 87 ships, carrying 60,000 tonnes of produce, had gone to poor countries.

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Russian troops withdraw from eastern Ukraine

The agreement to allow grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, entered into force last month. Citing UN figures, the ministry said about 30% of grain exported under the deal was supplied to low- and middle-income countries.

The ministry said Russia was pursuing a “deliberate disinformation strategy” to deflect blame from food insecurity issues and discredit Ukraine.

Shutdown of the last reactor at the Zaporizhzhia plant

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Image:
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

In southern Ukraine, the last reactor at the Zaporizhzhia power plant was shut down after it was reconnected to the electricity grid.

The six-reactor plant, which is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, was disconnected from the grid last week after all its power lines were cut due to bombings in the region.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s atomic energy operator, said one of the power lines was restored late Saturday, allowing plant operators to shut down the last reactor.

While both sides accuse each other of bombing near the factory, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the start of the war, the fighting around him raised concerns of a nuclear disaster.

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