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You are here News International Under a drone-filled sky, Ukraine tries to retake a town, one house at a time

Under a drone-filled sky, Ukraine tries to retake a town, one house at a time

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Ukraine takes back town one house at a timeThe two Russian soldiers jogged across an apocalyptic landscape. They kept going, zigzagging over a vegetable patch. At the intersection between Hoholia and Travnia streets, the pair disappeared into a roofless brick building. Around them was the ruined town of Vovchansk. It was a smouldering hell of blackened blocks of flats and shell-dinted cottages.

Vovchansk, once home to about 17,000 people, is approximately three miles (5km) from the border with Russia in north-east Ukraine.

Russian troops seized it on the first day of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale February 2022 invasion. They retreated six months later, going back up the road to the Russian city of Belgorod. A month ago – on 10 May – they swept in again, taking over Vovchansk’s polyclinic and meat processing factory.

A brutal battle has raged ever since. Russian forces control the north of the city and a grid of shattered western districts. Ukrainian troops hold the centre. Their fiefdom includes half of Korelenka Street, with the Russians concealed in nearby basements. Fighting takes place house by house. Vovchansk now resembles a 21st-century mini Stalingrad, a place of death, rattling gunfire and close-quarters combat.

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