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Russia Says Seized 'Key Heights' Near Kupiansk in East Ukraine

The village of Zaoskillya, near Kupiansk, Kharkiv Oblast. Sergei Bobok / AFP

Russia on Friday said it captured several strategic heights near Kupiansk, an eastern Ukrainian city where Moscow's troops stepped up pressure in August.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive against Russian positions in the south in June but Russia responded by trying to take back territory in the northeast.

"In the direction of Kupiansk, units of the Western group of forces improved the tactical position by capturing enemy strongholds and key heights," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

It also claimed Ukrainian forces had sustained "significant" losses.

Kupiansk and territory nearby in the Kharkiv region were retaken by Kyiv last September, but Moscow is pushing back.

Ukrainian officials ordered vulnerable people to evacuate from several villages near Kupiansk, citing an uptick in Russian shelling.

The Russian Defense Ministry Friday acknowledged that fighting in the south and east of Ukraine was "difficult."

It said Ukrainian military command was staging "meat grinder" assaults without providing sufficient cover for their troops.

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