Russia has pulled back its forces from a Black Sea island where they have faced relentless Ukrainian attacks but is keeping up its push to encircle the last bulwark of Ukraine's resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk.
Russia's Defense Ministry said it withdrew its forces from Snake Island off Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa in what it described as a "goodwill gesture." Ukraine's military said the Russians were forced off the island by a barrage of artillery and missile strikes, and claimed Ukraine would deploy its own forces there.
In central Ukraine, funerals were to be held for some of the 18 confirmed victims of Monday's Russian missile strike on a busy shopping mall in Kremenchuk.
“At the moment, we control (the island) with the help of our weapons: long-range artillery, rocket units and aviation,” Ukrainian military official, Oleksiy Gromov, said.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the withdrawal was intended to demonstrate that Moscow isn’t hampering U.N. efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor for exporting agricultural products from Ukraine.