Russia says it takes over two villages in Ukraine's Donetsk region

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian forces have taken over the villages of Spirne and Novooleksandrivka in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry, in a brief statement on the Telegram messaging app, said its forces have also improved their positions along the frontline around the villages.

Spirne is located in the east of the Donetsk region, close to the border with Ukraine's Luhansk region. The village of Novooleksandrivka lies about 130 km (80 miles) west of Spirne.

Ukraine's General Staff said in its daily statement on the situation on the battlefield that "heavy fighting" was taking place in the area around the villages, but it did not report any losses.

Donetsk is one of four regions in Ukraine's east and south that Russia claimed to have annexed in late 2022 in a move condemned as illegal by most countries at the U.N. General Assembly. Russia does not fully control any of the four regions.

(Reporting by Reuters in Moscow; Additional reporting by Bogdan Kobuchey in Kyiv; Writing by Olzhas Ayezov and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)