This is the moment Ukrainian forces were greeted with a heroes’ welcome and told ‘we waited for you’ by locals as they liberated a village outside Chernihiv. 

Footage posted online purports to show a Ukrainian brigade equipped with a tank and several rocket-propelled grenade launchers marching through a small village outside the northern city. 

Residents were videoed lining the streets, waving Ukrainian insignia and appeared to offer the troops sweets as they cheered the soldiers into the agricultural town – the latest of 30 towns retaken in recent days in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, where Russia has pulled back some of its troops.

Ukrainian soldiers on Friday liberated the suburban town of Irpin and the Hostomel air base on the outskirts of Kyiv while also regaining control of the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early on Friday morning. 

The exchange of control happened amid growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country. 

The Russian military in the northeast continued to block and shell Chernihiv and Kharkiv on Friday and Ukraine’s general staff said its forces were bracing for an all-out assault in the country’s east.  

In the southeast of the country the Russians are trying to seize the cities of Popasna, Rubizhne and Mariupol in order to expand the territory of separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the Ukrainian military.

This is the moment Ukrainian forces were greeted with a heroes’ welcome and told ‘we waited for you’ by locals as they liberated a town outside of Chernihiv

Footage posted online purports to show a Ukrainian brigade equipped with a tank and several rocket-propelled grenade launchers marching through a small village

Footage posted online purports to show a Ukrainian brigade equipped with a tank and several rocket-propelled grenade launchers marching through a small village

Footage posted online purports to show a Ukrainian brigade equipped with a tank and several rocket-propelled grenade launchers marching through a small village outside the northern city

Residents were videoed lining the streets, waving Ukrainian insignia and appeared to offer the troops sweets as they cheered the soldiers into the agricultural town

Ukrainian soldiers have liberated the suburban town of Irpin and the Hostomel air base on the outskirts of Kyiv while also regaining control of the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early on Friday morning. Above, rescuers evacuate an elderly woman from Irpin today

Ukrainian soldiers have liberated the suburban town of Irpin and the Hostomel air base on the outskirts of Kyiv while also regaining control of the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early on Friday morning. Above, rescuers evacuate an elderly woman from Irpin today

Anatoliy Vodopiyts, 68, holds his grandson's hand after he was evacuated from Irpin. Russia said during negotiations on Tuesday that it would scale down operations in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions

Anatoliy Vodopiyts, 68, holds his grandson’s hand after he was evacuated from Irpin. Russia said during negotiations on Tuesday that it would scale down operations in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions

Above, rescuers in Irpin on Friday. There are growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country

Above, rescuers in Irpin on Friday. There are growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country

Russian troops left the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early on Friday morning after returning control to the Ukrainians, authorities said.

Ukraine’s state power company, Energoatom, said the pullout at Chernobyl came after soldiers received ‘significant doses’ of radiation from digging trenches in the forest in the exclusion zone around the closed plant. But there was no independent confirmation of that. 

Announcing the exchange on Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russians behaved irresponsibly at the site during the more than four weeks that they controlled it, preventing staff at the plant from performing their full duties and digging trenches in contaminated areas.

Kuleba told a news conference in Warsaw that the Russian government had exposed its soldiers to radiation, endangering their health. 

The exchange of control happened amid growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country. 

President Vladimir Putin has ordered 134,500 more conscripts to join his army as Russia's forces continue to struggle to make significant gains in Ukraine. Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier takes a selfie next to a destroyed Russian tank in the Sumy region, Ukraine, 30 March 2022

President Vladimir Putin has ordered 134,500 more conscripts to join his army as Russia’s forces continue to struggle to make significant gains in Ukraine. Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier takes a selfie next to a destroyed Russian tank in the Sumy region, Ukraine, 30 March 2022

Ukrainian soldiers carry a body of a civilian killed by the Russian forces over the destroyed bridge in Irpin close to Kyiv, on Thursday

Ukrainian soldiers carry a body of a civilian killed by the Russian forces over the destroyed bridge in Irpin close to Kyiv, on Thursday

Russia is also pulling back some of its forces in the northern Ukrainian regions of Kyiv and Chernihiv, the two regions’ governors said on Friday.

Russia said during negotiations on Tuesday that it would scale down operations in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions. 

Fighting has continued in both regions and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said Russian forces are not withdrawing but regrouping.

‘We are observing the movement of joint (Russian) vehicle columns of various quantities,’ the Kyiv region’s governor, Oleksandr Pavlyuk, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Pavlyuk said some of the troops were heading towards the border with Belarus, a Russian ally. He said Russian forces had left the village of Hostomel, which is next to an important airport, but were digging in at the town of Bucha.

Moscow’s men have suffered heavy losses in the five week war and NATO estimates between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the fighting. Ukraine claims as many as 17,000 have been killed.  

Putin this week ordered 134,500 more conscripts aged 18 to 27 to join his army as part of the annual spring military draft, which runs from April 1 to July 15. 

A car which was damaged during the shelling, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine is pictured at the house courtyard, in Irpin Ukraine March 31, 2022

A car which was damaged during the shelling, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine is pictured at the house courtyard, in Irpin Ukraine March 31, 2022

Pictured: Windows that were broken during the shelling amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, are pictured in Irpin, Ukraine March 31, 2022.

Pictured: Windows that were broken during the shelling amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, are pictured in Irpin, Ukraine March 31, 2022.

Emergency service members carry the body of a civilian killed by Russian shelling, in Irpin, Ukraine March 31, 2022

Emergency service members carry the body of a civilian killed by Russian shelling, in Irpin, Ukraine March 31, 2022

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers carry a body of a civilian killed by the Russian forces over the destroyed bridge in Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers carry a body of a civilian killed by the Russian forces over the destroyed bridge in Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022



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