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Fierce fighting in Vovchansk as Ukrainian troops try to isolate invading Russian units

By Darya Tarasova, Maria Kostenko, Tim Lister and Dennis Lapin, CNN

(CNN) — Fierce fighting is taking place around the Ukrainian town of Vovchansk as Kyiv’s troops seek to isolate Russian units that have advanced across the nearby border.

Heavy combat is underway at an aggregate plant on the northern edge of Vovchansk, according to military bloggers on both sides of the conflict.

One Ukrainian squad commander, Stanislav Buniatov, known as Osman, described the situation in Vovchansk, east of Kharkiv and a few miles from the state border, as “difficult but controlled” and said Russian troops are “surrounded”.

“Our guys are not losing their positions, occasionally conducting successful assaults, liberating positions and pushing the enemy back,” Buniatov said in a post on Telegram on Sunday.

Russian forces began coming across the border in numbers last month in a multi-pronged assault that the Kremlin said was designed to create a buffer zone that would prevent the Ukrainians from striking Russian cities such as Belgorod.

At first they took several villages close to the border and advanced to the edge of Vovchansk, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in September 2022 after being occupied for several months.

DeepState – a Ukrainian monitoring group – says small groups of Russian soldiers have repeatedly attempted to secure the aggregate plant, but have been repelled by Ukraine forces.

Suggesting that resupply to the Russian soldiers has become difficult, DeepState says that food and water are being delivered to them by drones.

Videos, geolocated by CNN, shows Ukrainian drones striking the plant in recent days.

Russian military blogger WarGonzo said on Telegram that fighting in the area is “fierce” as “Ukrainian troops are carrying out counterattacks, trying to dislodge the Russian Armed Forces from their occupied positions” but did not mention troops being surrounded.

On Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “troops improved the situation along the front line and defeated the manpower and equipment” of Ukrainian troops in the “areas of the settlements of Vovchansk, Synelnykove and Vovchanski Khutory” in Kharkiv region.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense chose not to comment to CNN’s request for more information.

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