Ukrainian troops claimed on Thursday to have recaptured the southern town of Snihurivka from Russian forces, saying it had been liberated in video footage published on social media and by Ukrainian national television.
The town, seen as the last remaining Russian-occupied town in the Mykolaiv region, is important for control of a strategic road that leads to the city of Kherson, which Russia captured in March.
“Today, on Nov. 10, Snihurivka was liberated by the forces of the 131st Separate Intelligence Battalion. Glory to Ukraine!” a soldier shouted as civilians clapped and cheered.
Reuters was able to verify the location of the footage, but not the date it was filmed. There was no immediate confirmation of the town’s recapture from the Ukrainian Defence Ministry, a day after Russia ordered its forces to retreat from the area.
Fog hung over the settlement as soldier stood in a group of heavily armed troops, one of whom was holding up the Ukrainian flag on a military infantry vehicle.
Despite Russia announcing its withdrawal from the area, Kyiv has said it is wary of rushing in and warned it may be some kind of a Kremlin trap.
Kyiv officials have been careful not to blurt out sensitive military information during earlier counteroffensives in the east and near Kyiv, and they gave few clues of their movements on Wednesday.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential office published an emoticon of a bird, an apparent reference to Snihurivka, which contains the word for a breed of bird in Ukrainian.
Vitaliy Kim, governor of the neighbouring region of Mykolaiv said: “We’ll wait for official information from the Armed Forces. From myself, I can say that as of now, authorities of that district are already, let’s say, close. Let’s not lay our cards open. We are preparing humanitarian aid, trucks with food, starlinks.”
Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Felix Hoske and Jonathan Landay; editing by Timothy Heritage