Russia said on Monday its troops had pushed forward a few kilometers along the frontlines in Ukraine, while Kyiv said its forces had repelled Russian attacks in several areas.
As the first anniversary of the Russian invasion neared, much of the fighting was taking place around the eastern city of Bakhmut, still in Ukrainian hands amid a months-long battle.
The Ukrainian military on Monday reported heavy Russian shelling all along the frontline and said 16 settlements had been bombarded near Bakhmut.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Russian troops had managed to advance 2 km (1.2 miles) to the west in four days. However, it did not say which part of the long frontline, encompassing several Ukrainian regions in the south and east, had moved.
“The Russian servicemen broke the enemy’s resistance and advanced several kilometers deeper into its echeloned defense,” it said.
Ukraine’s military said that over the past day, its forces had repelled a number of attacks near Bakhmut, which sits in the Donetsk region, as well as assaults in the Kharkiv, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner Group, said on Sunday the mercenary force had taken the village of Krasna Hora, on the northern edge of Bakhmut. Wagner has for months spearheaded the assault on Bakhmut, making small but steady gains.
Bakhmut is a major objective for Russian President Vladimir Putin and months of Russian shelling have left much of it in ruins.
The Donetsk region is partially occupied by Russia and Moscow wants to occupy it fully. However, neither side has made a decisive gain for weeks.
The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said on Saturday Ukrainian troops held their defense along the frontline in Donetsk and in some areas have managed to regain previously lost positions.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the battlefield reports.
No decisive victory
With Ukraine desperate for more weapons and munitions to turn the tide of the war, defense ministers from several NATO countries allied to Kyiv were due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss possible further military aid.
Russia is widely thought to be planning a major new offensive and Ukraine says it needs fighter jets and long-range missiles to counter this and to recapture lost territory.
Russia invaded Ukraine last Feb. 24 saying its neighbor posed a security threat. Kyiv and the West say the action was nothing more than a land grab.
Putin’s forces failed in an early bid to capture the capital and the conflict has since become a grinding war of attrition that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians and left whole cities in ruins.
On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said power workers had repaired much of the damage to the energy grid caused by Russian missile and drone strikes on Friday.
But he warned the population it was too early to declare victory on the energy front.
Russia has carried out repeated waves of attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities in recent months, at times leaving millions of people without light, heating or water supplies during the cold winter.
“We have to realize: this is not yet a decisive victory on the energy front. Unfortunately, there may be new terrorist attacks from Russia. There may be new restrictions if there is further destruction or growth in consumption,” he said.