Kazakh Bank Hostage-Taker Gets More Than Seven Years In Prison

Ukrainian forces appear to have recaptured the key village of Klishchiyivka as part of their drive to liberate the symbolic eastern town of Bakhmut in a day marked by intensified drone and missile attacks by both sides.

A photo posted on September 17 on Telegram by Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, reportedly shows Ukrainian soldiers holding a flag in the mostly destroyed village, which is near already taken Andriyivka, just a few kilometers from Bakhmut.

“Ukraine always takes back its own,” Yermak wrote along with the photo.

Ukrainian media reported that the soldiers are standing in front of a known church in Klishchiyivka, which had a prewar population of just more than 500 people.

General Oleksandr Syrskiy, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, later confirmed that Ukrainian forces had recaptured the village, saying it “was cleared of the Russians and liberated.”

Russian officials have denied recent claims of gains by Ukrainian forces, and the reports could not be independently verified.

Kyiv earlier announced its forces had recaptured Andriyivka. If both villages are retaken, it could allow Ukraine’s troops to attack Bakhmut from the north and south, allowing them to liberate the ruined town that was captured by Russia after a bloody monthslong battle and hailed by the Kremlin as a major victory at the time.

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The now-departed Russian Wagner mercenary group played a key role in capturing Bakhmut from Ukrainian forces.

The action comes as Kyiv said Russia launched missile and drone attacks early on September 17, targeting mainly the southern parts of the Odesa region as Moscow and other regions of Russia reported Ukrainian drone strikes.

Ukraine in recent days has launched a series of strikes on Russian military targets in occupied Crimea and the Russian Navy Black Sea Fleet’s facilities.

Attacks deep inside Russia, far from the front lines, have also increased, with Moscow’s mayor saying at least two drones were shot down in the capital region early on September 17.

Meanwhile, Russian attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure are continuing, with Ukraine reporting on September 17 that an agricultural facility in the southern Odesa region had been hit in a Russian aerial attack.

Russia launched six Iranian Shahed drones and 10 cruise missiles, with Ukraine’s forces destroying six drones and six missiles before they hit their target, the Ukrainian Air Force said.

“Fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft missile units, mobile fire groups, and other means of attack were involved in repelling the air attack,” the air force said.

The strike in Odesa comes a day after Kyiv said two cargo vessels arrived there to use a temporary corridor to sail into Black Sea ports and load grain for African and Asian markets.

Ukraine last month announced a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to allow ships to sail from its ports and to circumvent a de facto blockade after Russia abandoned a deal to let Kyiv export grain.

Elsewhere, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram that air-defense systems had destroyed six drones over western, Russian-occupied Crimea.

It did not say whether there had been any damage or casualties on the peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014 in a move widely condemned internationally.

In the Moscow region, a drone was destroyed over the Istra district and another over the Ramensky district, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram, adding there were no casualties or damage from drone debris.

At least 30 flights were delayed and six canceled at Moscow’s three major airports, Vnukovo, Domodedovo, and Sheremetyevo, Russian state news agencies said.

In southwestern Russia, a Ukrainian drone damaged an oil depot early on September 17, sparking a fire at a fuel tank that was later extinguished, the regional governor said.

“There are no casualties. All emergency services are working on the territory of the facility,” the governor of the Oryol region, Andrei Klychkov, said on Telegram.

WATCH: RFE/RL’s Maryan Kushnir travels to the front with the Ukrainian drone operators who are hunting down enemy artillery with increasing accuracy.

Also on September 17, Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had carried out a missile strike on a Ukrainian repair plant for armored vehicles in Kharkiv, a major city in Ukraine’s northeast.

The ministry did not provide further details and Kyiv has not yet commented.

U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on September 15 that President Joe Biden will host Zelenskiy in Washington on September 21 for what will be their third meeting at the White House.

Both Biden and Zelenskiy are slated to address the 78th session of the UN General Assembly next week, and Zelenskiy is expected to use his in-person appearance with U.S. and world leaders to rally support and plead for advanced weapons and ammunition to aid his country’s ongoing counteroffensive to retake Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

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