KIEV (Reuters) – A senior Ukrainian defense official said on Sunday that fighting in eastern Ukraine had “intensified somewhat”, with clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces in at least three areas on the eastern front.
Separately, the Ukrainian military indicated that it had captured part of a village in the southeast in the Donetsk region, near a string of small settlements that Ukraine recaptured in June.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a regular update: “The enemy made an unsuccessful attempt to regain lost positions in the northern part of Staromayorsk.”
It was the first official acknowledgment of progress in the village since Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June, aiming to recapture occupied territory and seize the initiative in the all-out Russian invasion, now in its 17th month.
Deputy Defense Minister Hana Malyar said, on Telegram, that Russian forces have been attacking in the direction of Kobyansk in the Kharkiv region for two consecutive days.
“We are on the defensive,” Maliar wrote. “There are fierce battles. The positions of both sides change dynamically several times a day.”
Malyar also said that the two armies were striking each other around the ruined city of Bakhmut but that Ukrainian forces were “gradually advancing” along its southern flank.
She added that Kiev forces are also repelling Russian attacks near Avdiivka and Marinka.
A spokesman for the army’s Southern Command said in a separate statement on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had advanced more than a kilometer in one part of the southern front.
Kiev has made incremental gains in parts of the east and south since launching its long-awaited counter-offensive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with state television, part of which was published on Sunday, that the operation “did not succeed” and that attempts to breach Russian defenses had failed.
Additional reporting by Dan Belichuk, Nick Starkoff and Elaine Monaghan; Editing by David Holmes, Alexandra Hudson, and Sandra Mahler
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