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Soldiers of Ukraine's Border Guard Service raised state flags in Stroivka and Topoli, two settlements in Kharkiv Oblast near the Russian border that have been previously inaccessible due to mines, the State Border Guard Service reported on Sept. 7.
Service members of the "Steel Frontier" Border Guard Assault Brigade entered the villages after clearing out a safe path toward them.
Ukraine retook most of the occupied parts of Kharkiv Oblast during a major counteroffensive last fall. The settlements of Stroivka and Topoli, lying little more than a kilometer from the Russian border, remained in the "gray zone," free from Russian forces but remaining empty due to the heavy mining.
Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said in March that nearly one-third of Ukraine's territory had been mined since February last year.
The State Emergency Service earlier reported that after the end of the war, Ukraine would need at least 10 years to demine its territory.