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Ukraine military confirms retreat from eastern village

Ukraine has confirmed its retreat from the village of Lastochkyne in eastern Ukraine, which Russia said it had captured, the latest in a string of Russian advances after the fall of Avdiivka.

As the war enters its third year, Moscow’s troops have mounted heavy attacks and taken Avdiivka – a key eastern town – while Ukrainian troops struggled with a lack of ammunition.

“Ukrainian Armed Forces units withdrew from the village of Lastochkyne to organise defences along the line of Orlivka, Tonenke, Berdychi,” Ukrainian military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy said.

After a year of static frontlines, Russia has in recent weeks been seeking to press its advantage on the battlefield and trying to advance beyond Avdiivka.

“In the area of Avdiivka, units… liberated the village of Lastochkino and continued to improve the situation along the front line,” the Russian defence ministry said in its daily update, referring to the village by its Russian name.

The small village is about five kilometres west of Avdiivka, which Russian forces seized over a week ago.

The battle for Avdiivka was one of the bloodiest of the two-year war, drawing comparisons with Russia’s assault on Bakhmut, which it captured last May.

Facing manpower and ammunition shortages, Ukraine was forced to withdraw from the industrial hub in the eastern Donetsk region, handing Moscow its first major territorial gain since Bakhmut.

Peace talks without Russia ‘laughable’ – Kremlin

The Kremlin said that the idea of holding peace talks without Russia was ridiculous, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he hoped to hold a spring summit in Switzerland to discuss his peace vision with Kyiv’s allies.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We have repeatedly said that this is a strange format, to say the least, because certain peace plans are being implemented without the participation of Russia, which in itself is frivolous and even laughable.”

Volodymyr Zelensky is hoping to hold peace talks in Switzerland

Mr Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said however, that a blueprint from the summit in Switzerland could be handed to Russia at a later date.

“There can be a situation in which we together invite representatives of the Russian Federation, where they will be presented with the plan in case whoever is representing the aggressor country at that time will want to genuinely end this war and return to a just peace,” Mr Yermak said.

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