Ukrainians find little left in liberated villages

STORY: A weeping Tatyana Pochivalova kneels on the earth and kisses it, her first time returning to her village outside the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in two months.

This tiny, battered hamlet of Vilkhivka is testament to the bitter fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops.

It was recaptured early in April, and former residents are still trickling back.

Pochivalova was surprised and overjoyed to discover some of her livestock still here.

But there is little else left.

"I have not expected anything like this, such aggression, such destruction. I came and I kissed the ground, I simply kissed it. My home, there is nothing. Where am I to live, how am I to live?"

The Ukrainian military reported new gains on Wednesday that signaled a possible shift in the course of the war.

The advance appears to be the fastest that Ukraine has mounted since it drove Russian troops away from Kyiv and out of the country's north at the beginning of April.

If sustained, Ukrainian forces could be poised to threaten Russian supply lines.

Aerial footage released by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry purports to show a missile obliterating a Russian T-90 tank

In southern Ukraine, a different picture:

Russian forces continued to bombard the Azovstal steelworks in the port of Mariupol, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city now almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of siege.

Ukraine's Azov Regiment, holed up inside, said Russia was bombing and trying to storm it.

Kyiv says it is likely that tens of thousands of people have been killed in Mariupol. Ukrainian authorities say between 150,000 and 170,000 of the city's 400,000 residents are still living there amid the Russian-occupied ruins.

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