Firefighters extinguish a fire in a supermarket after a night strike by Russian forces in Odesa on Monday.—AFP
Firefighters extinguish a fire in a supermarket after a night strike by Russian forces in Odesa on Monday.—AFP

KYIV: The Ukrainian military on Monday said it had pushed Russian forces out of pockets of territory along front lines in the east and south of the country, building on a gruelling counter-offensive launched two months ago.

The gains — announced by Ukraine’s deputy defence minister — came as Russia claimed its forces had progressed in the eastern Kharkiv region, undermining Kyiv’s highly anticipated campaign.

Ukraine kicked off its counter-offensive against Russian forces in June after building up assault battalions and stockpiling Western-donated weapons.

But Kyiv has acknowledged that movement against heavily fortified Russian positions has been slow and said it had gained only a clutch of land around the war-battered city of Bakhmut last week.

“In the Bakhmut sector, three square kilometres were liberated last week,” Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar told state television, adding that Ukrainian forces had clawed back 40 square kilometres there since June.

She said that Ukrainian forces had been diverted from offensive operations around the city — captured by Russian forces in May — citing building Russian pressure in the Kharkiv region.

“It was important for the enemy to divert our forces in other directions, so we could not concentrate our forces for the offensive in the Bakhmut sector,” Malyar said.

Zelensky in the east

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he visited troops in the east and “discussed with the brigade commander problems faced by the warriors.” Ukrainian forces have also been pressing against deeply entrenched Russian forces in the south of the country, in two regions the Kremlin said it had annexed last year.

Malyar said Kyiv’s army had made gains in two villages on the southern front but also confirmed Ukrainian troops had conducted “certain tasks” on the left bank of the Dnipro river in the Kherson region.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2023

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