Ukrainian military officials said on Friday that Kyiv was persistently working to retake land near the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut while Russian forces were pouring in additional troops in a bid to stop Kyiv’s advances.
“The Russians are throwing huge numbers of forces into the Bakhmut area,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar told national television. “It has been important for us to establish ourselves on dominant heights in these areas.”
Maliar said Ukrainian forces were advancing “slowly but confidently” south of Bakhmut while securing control of positions north of the city. “An extremely fierce battle is going on there.”
Accounts from Moscow said Russian troops had repelled eight Ukrainian attempts to advance in the east and inflicted a defeat near Bakhmut.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June focusing on moving southward to the Sea of Azov and severing a Russian land bridge between the occupied east and the annexed Crimean peninsula.
Kyiv, in the 18th month of Russia’s invasion, is also determined to recapture land around Bakhmut, seized by Russian forces in May after months of battles.
Writing on the Telegram messaging app, Maliar added: “The enemy is desperately trying to stop our offensive.”
Ukrainian forces, she said, were also working to contain intensified Russian attacks on areas farther north in Donestsk region, around Kupiansk and Lyman.
In his nightly video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said three of the country’s top generals had joined him at a meeting of the command on Friday. He did not provide
details on the situation in frontline sectors.
Much of the fighting has focused on villages on Bakhmut’s southern fringes. One prominent commander who comments on the front, Maksym Zhorin, said Ukrainian forces had secured partial control of the key village of Klishchiivka.
There was no official statement regarding his report.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, in its daily synopsis of frontline activity, said Russian forces had made air and artillery strikes on Klishchiivka and surrounding towns, knocking out Ukrainian vehicles and equipment.
The report also said Russian forces had pressed offensive action on the southern front and hit Ukrainian personnel and equipment engaged in their drive southward.