Ukraine war: Liberating towns is a shot in the arm for Ukrainian troops

Oleksii tells me: “I feel safe here because we are on our land and even the ground will bring me help.” That’s despite the nearby sound of small-arms fire, exploding artillery shells landing within sight and the roar of Russian jets overhead.

The ground he and the small team of Ukrainian troops now occupy is on the border of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The same ground that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently declared as being Russian forever.

Over the past week the men of Ukraine’s D1 National Guard Unit have advanced more than 20km (12 miles) east from the recently liberated city of Lyman in Donetsk region. They now occupy a former Russian position in a wood – still within range of the retreating Russian army. Part of “forever Russia” is already back in Ukrainian hands. Russia’s now the defending army.

The reversal in fortunes has been a shot in the arm for Ukrainian troops. There’s a palpable sense of confidence among them, even though they’re still within range….

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