Ukraine, Russia report heavy fighting in east, south

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Ukrainian servicemen fire a D-20 howitzer towards Russian troops at a position near the front line town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine July 11, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova

Ukraine’s military on Tuesday reported heavy fighting in the east and southeast, the main theatres of its drive to recapture land seized by Russian invaders, saying its forces had repelled dozens of enemy attacks.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who expressed a measure of frustration with NATO’s failure to offer Ukraine a timeline for alliance membership, suggests that the early stages of a counter offensive in those two regions are going to plan.

But he also says he wishes the advances were faster.

Russian accounts from the front line also outlined clashes, including a successful defence of areas near the devastated city of Bakhmut, where Ukraine says its forces are recovering ground.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s General Staff, Andriy Kovaliov, said Ukrainian troops had beaten back a Russian advance backed by artillery strikes near two towns north of Bakhmut – captured by Russian mercenary forces in late May.

The fluid situation near Bakhmut has been the focus of much attention, with Ukraine noting gains on the city’s southern fringe, particularly the strategic village of Klishchiivka.

Liberating the village, which lies on higher ground, would give Ukrainian forces operational advantage in potentially encircling Russian forces in Bakhmut, analysts say.

Ukraine said on Monday it controlled heights ringing the village, enabling it to fire on targets in Bakhmut itself.

The Russian Defence Ministry said its forces had repelled nine attempted Ukrainian advances in eastern Donetsk region, including one drive near Kliishchivka.

In the south, Ukraine says it has retaken a cluster of villages in the early stages of a drive towards the Sea of Azov – with the aim of severing Russia’s land bridge linking eastern Ukraine to the Crimea peninsula, which it annexed in 2014.

Ukrainian General Oleksander Tarnavskyi, writing on Telegram, said battles were raging throughout the sector, with his forces repelling 27 enemy attacks. He estimated Russian losses over 24 hours at the equivalent of several hundred dead and wounded.

For all of Ukraine’s gains in its counter offensive, Russian forces still hold vast tracts of land after more than 500 days of war – some estimates put it at 17% of Ukrainian territory.

Ukrainian military analyst Serhiy Hrabskyi said Ukraine’s drive towards the coast was proceeding well, taking account of Russian defence preparations and extensive mining.

“We note that in a month and a half of offensive operations, we have brought in 25 percent of our resources,” he wrote on the Espreso TV website. “By virtue of simple arithmetic, if we continue at this pace we are talking about four months

SOURCE: REUTERS

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