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Russia awards medals after claiming hits on Leopard tanks, U.S. Bradleys in Ukraine

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s defence minister on Sunday awarded medals to soldiers after Moscow said its forces had destroyed four German-made Leopard tanks and five U.S.-made Bradley fighting vehicles while repelling a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was shown on state television awarding the “Hero of Russia gold star”, Russia’s highest military honour, to soldiers who said they had destroyed enemy tanks and armoured vehicles.

The soldiers did not identify the tanks in public.

The Defence Ministry published several videos and pictures over recent days showing numerous strikes on Ukrainian-manned armoured vehicles and tanks from Ka-52 attack helicopters and drones.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify battlefield claims from either side.

In footage released by the ministry on Saturday, drones were shown striking tanks in the Zaporizhzhia region where Kyiv’s forces have so far focused their counteroffensive.

Reuters was able to verify the location of the video as two miles south from the village of Mala Tokmachka in Zaporizhzhia by vegetation lines, crop squares and buildings that matched satellite imagery of the area. Reuters was not able to independently confirm the date the video was filmed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had so far failed in their counteroffensive but that the “offensive potential” of Ukraine had not been undermined yet.

Ukraine’s attack is focusing on several points in southern Ukraine, Russia says. Russia says its lines have so far not been pierced.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged on Saturday that his military was engaged in “counter-offensive and defensive operations”, but said he would not go into detail.

“They (Ukraine’s generals) are all in a positive mood. Pass that on to Putin,” Zelenskiy said to reporters, standing alongside visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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