Ukraine tightens grip on liberated countries, separatists call for urgent referendum

Ukraine has expanded its hold on recently recaptured territory as troops marched further east into areas abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a possible attack on occupation forces in the Donbas region.

In a sign of nervousness from a Moscow-backed government in Donbas over the success of the Ukrainian offensive, the leader called for urgent referendums on the region’s accession to Russia.

“The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a regular televised speech, adding that he was now focusing on “speed” in liberated areas.

“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed at which normal life is being restored,” said Mr Zelenskyy, who also hinted that he would use a video address to the UN General Assembly this week to call on the international community for weapons and help get Ukraine faster.

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