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Russian authorities in occupied Zaporizhzhia have declared Melitopol the oblast capital.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, in its latest intelligence update, that the move is temporary as Russian fighters attempt to capture new areas of the region.

Officials aim to keep this status in place until the city of Zaporizhzhia is “controlled by Russia”, the ministry said.

The oblast is one of four Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed in September 2022, but western nations do not recognise this claim.

The update adds: “Russia has never occupied Zaporizhzhia city, a major industrial centre of 700,000 people, which is approximately 35km from the current front line.

“The quiet declaration of an alternative capital is likely tacit acknowledgement within the Russian system that its forces are highly unlikely to seize previously planned major objectives in the near future.”