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Russia-Ukraine war latest: what we know on day 223 of the invasion

Russia no longer has full control over any ‘annexed’ provinces as Ukrainian brigades achieve biggest breakthrough since start of war

Russia no longer has full control of any of the four provinces of Ukraine it says it annexed last week, after Ukrainian troops reportedly advanced dozens of kilometres in Kherson province. The Russian military has acknowledged that Kyiv’s forces had broken through in the Kherson region. It said the Ukrainian army and its “superior tank units” had managed to “penetrate the depths of our defence” around the villages of Zoltaya Balka and Alexsandrovka.

Earlier on Monday, Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson said the Kremlin was still determining which areas of occupied Ukraine it has “annexed”. Putin has vowed to protect Russia’s newly claimed territories using “all means at its disposal”, indicating a potential nuclear strike. The lack of a clear red line may undermine his attempts at using nuclear deterrence to halt Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive and western support for Kyiv.

The Kremlin also said Russia favours a “balanced approach” to the issue of nuclear weapons that is not based on emotion. The remarks by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov come after Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed leader of the Chechnya region, said Moscow should consider using a “low-yield” nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

Ukraine has “fully cleared” Russian forces from the key eastern city of Lyman, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, confirmed, a day after Moscow admitted its troops had pulled out after they were encircled.

Ukrainian brigades appear to have achieved their biggest breakthrough in the region since the war started, bursting through the frontline and advancing rapidly along the Dnieper River. Lyman’s recapture by Ukrainian troops is Russia’s largest battlefield loss since Ukraine’s lightning counteroffensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region in September.

President Zelenskiy said Ukraine is not just experiencing military success in Lyman, but also in Kherson. In his overnight statement, he said Ukraine forces have liberated the small Arkhanhelske and Myrolyubivka settlements in the Kherson region. Vladimir Saldo, the head of the Russian-imposed authority in the region, admitted that Ukrainians had gained some ground.

Russias’s ministry of defence spokesperson, Igor Konashenkov, said Russian troops had occupied what he called a “pre-prepared defensive line”. His comments are an admission that Ukraine’s southern counter-offensive is dramatically gaining pace, two months after it began.

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