Ukrainian official denies Russian troops take border village in northeast

(Fixes formatting in lead)

(Reuters) -A local Ukrainian official on Monday denied a claim by the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region that Russian forces led by a Chechen-based special forces unit had seized control of a border village in northeast Ukraine.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Sunday the Akhmat-Chechnya unit spearheaded Russian troops in taking control of Ryzhivka in Sumy region.

The “large-scale planned advance” inflicted “significant losses on the Ukrainian side, which was forced to retreat,” Kadyrov said.

However, Yuriy Zarko, a local official in Sumy, denied the presence of Russian troops in Ryzhivka on Monday in a comment to Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne.

Andriy Kovalenko, head of the Ukrainian government’s Centre for Countering Disinformation, said on Telegram that Russian forces had tried to test Ukraine’s defences on the Ryzhivka front. Ukrainian forces are in control of the situation but the threat of Russian actions in the border area remains, he added.

Russia’s Defence Ministry issued no statement on the action.

Ukraine’s military has warned in recent weeks of a buildup of Russian forces around Sumy region in preparation for military action. A big Russian push in the northern region would stretch Ukraine’s troops and open a new front in the war.

In May, Kadyrov said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that tens of thousands of his soldiers were prepared to fight for Russia in Ukraine and that some 43,500 troops had already served in Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

(Reporting Bogdan Kochubey, Ron Popeski, Lidia Kelly and Anastasiia Malenko; Editing by Angus MacSwanWriting by Ron Popeski;Editing by Angus MacSwan)


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