Ukraine ‘could reach Crimea by Christmas’

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Russian occupation forces in Melitopol, southern Ukraine, are paying civilians to donate blood to wounded Russian soldiers, the town’s ousted Ukrainian mayor has said.

Ivan Fedorov said Russian occupying forces had abandoned a previous scheme claiming the blood was for women giving birth or cancer patients and instead openly paid 736 rubles (£10.17) for the blood.

“The losses of the occupying forces are now obvious to everyone,” he told a Ukrainian news program. “They are rejecting patients hospitalized in Meltipol hospital for their own wounded soldiers.”

Melitopol had a population of around 150,000 before the war began and is one of the largest towns captured by Russian forces since their full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.

Since Russian forces surrendered Kherson in the southwest earlier this month, Ukrainian officials have been raving about the recapture of Melitopol and the fighting has intensified.

“The Russians who fled Kherson are digging around Melitopol and the Melitopol region. Today they are settling in villages, taking away houses, taking away apartments,” Fedorov said.

Reporting by James Kilner

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