UKRAINE: Ukrainian troops have advanced around Bakhmut, said Hanna Maliar, the deputy defence minister, describing the eastern metropolis as the “epicentre of hostilities.”
She didn’t mention whether the long-awaited counteroffensive had started. Separately, the Russian military reported repelling a fresh assault on Monday in the eastern Donetsk region.
Bakhmut has been at the centre of ferocious conflict for months. Despite having minimal military significance, it is significant symbolically for both Moscow and Kyiv. The claims made by Ukraine and Russia on Monday have not been independently verified.
Air raid sirens were sounded across Ukraine for many hours on Tuesday morning. All of the missiles that were launched at Kyiv, were shot down, according to preliminary data cited by municipal officials.
On Monday, Maliar wrote on social media that “our military units advanced in several directions during the fighting, despite stiff resistance and the enemy’s attempts to hold the positions.”
She stated that while Ukrainian troops advanced between 100m and 700m (330–2,300 ft) in Ivanivske and Klishchiivka, they gained 200m to 1,600m (656–5,250 ft) in Orikhovo-Vasulivka and Paraskoviivka.
The distance between Bakhmut and each of the four villages is a few kilometres. The war’s longest and bloodiest combat has been fought over the city in the Donetsk area.
Late on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Ukrainian fighters in a video message for bringing “the news we are expecting” in Bakhmut’s direction. “The enemy knows that Ukraine will win,” said Zelensky.
In late May, the Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner claimed to have taken the city. Some observers have argued in recent weeks that Kyiv’s forces are trying to encircle Bakhmut and trap Russian units.
It has long been anticipated that Ukraine will launch a significant counteroffensive, but Kyiv has already stated that it won’t give notice before it begins. There has been a noticeable uptick in military action, and Ukraine claims to have gained little success elsewhere on the front line.
The most recent reports are being interpreted as a brand-new indication that the anticipated Ukrainian push may have started. On Monday, the Russian defence ministry reported that a fresh assault by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk had been thwarted.
It said in a statement cited by state-run media that the attacking side had suffered significant losses and that 28 tanks, including eight Leopard tanks produced in Germany, had been destroyed. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, publicly derided the Russian military ministry’s assertion, calling it a “wild fantasy.”
This comes a day after Moscow claimed that a “large-scale offensive” by the Ukrainian military in the Donetsk region had started on Sunday but failed. The Ukrainian military claimed to be in the dark regarding such a significant attack in the area.
In video footage of what Russia claimed to be the combat in Donetsk, military trucks were seen under heavy fire in the fields. Russia asserts that it killed 300 soldiers and obliterated 16 tanks.
A Ukrainian army official told the media that they don’t have this information and won’t comment on any fake news. There has been a substantial rise in Ukrainian messaging on how and when their counteroffensive can take shape.
Ukraine has been preparing for this action for some weeks. However, it has sought as much time as possible to prepare its soldiers and acquire military hardware from Western partners. Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister, asserted that his country now possessed enough weapons for a counteroffensive but would not clarify whether it had already begun.
Officials in Kyiv have issued a warning against public speculation about the offensive, claiming that it could aid the adversary. “Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start,” the defence ministry stated in a recently uploaded video. It showed armed and disguised soldiers pressing their fingers to their lips.
It will take some time for Ukraine to liberate the area that Russia annexed as recently as nine years ago. Additionally, Moscow has had time to get ready. It implies that if Ukraine is able to launch a counteroffensive, it will take some time.
Much is at risk because the Ukrainian government must demonstrate to its citizens and Western partners that it is capable of breaching Russian defences, ending the military standoff, and reclaiming some of its sovereign territory.
Elsewhere, fighters opposed to the Moscow government claim to have taken some Russian soldiers in Belgorod, which is close to the Ukrainian border. The Liberty of Russia Legion (FRL), which made the assertion, claimed that the declaration was a joint one with the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK).
Both organisations oppose the full-scale invasion of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin began in February of last year and want to see him removed from office.
Recent attacks in Russia’s border regions have been attributed to Ukraine, while Kiev denies any involvement. On Monday in Kyiv, President Zelensky met with James Cleverly, the foreign secretary of the UK.
Zelensky said that the two talked about Ukraine’s peace plans and the impending NATO summit in Vilnius in July.