Russian accounts said that fierce battles broke out in areas outside the eastern city of Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian mercenary forces Wagner in May after months of battles. Chechen leader Ramadan Kadyrov said one of his units had been deployed to the region.
Equipped with increasingly advanced Western weaponry after more than 500 days of war, Ukraine launched a predictable counter-offensive focused so far on capturing a cluster of villages in the southwest. Its forces are also trying to restore areas around Bakhmut.
Deputy Defense of Ukraine Writing on the messaging app Telegram, Minister Hanna Maliar said heavy fighting had broken out in two districts in the southeast.
“We are consolidating our gains in those areas,” she wrote.
It said that Russian forces were defending Bakhmut, while Ukrainian forces registered “certain progress” on the southern side of the city.
There were no changes of position in northern Bakhmut, and Ukrainian forces remained engaged in heavy fighting west of Bakhmut and near Liman, to the north in the Donetsk region.
Zelensky was interviewed on US television network ABC ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Lithuania, where Kiev hopes to receive firm indications about future membership in the Western defense alliance and guarantees of its security.
Zelensky acknowledged that the advance was slower than he and his generals wanted, but said it was the Ukrainian forces that took the initiative.
“We all want to do it faster because every day means new losses for the Ukrainians. We are advancing. We are not stuck,” he said, noting that the military had gone through “a kind of slump” in the previous months.
“We would all like to see the counterattack being carried out in a shorter period of time. But there is a fact. Today, the initiative is on our side.”
Attention in recent days has focused on the village of Klishchevka, located on the heights of South Bakhmut.
Chechen leader Kadyrov said in a Telegram that his Akhmat unit was “in the difficult region of Bakhmut”. He posted a video of a commander atop an armored vehicle near Klishchiivka.
And Russian reports had indicated in recent days that Kadyrov, whose forces have been active since the beginning of the Russian invasion, was sick, injured, or “on vacation.”
Reuters could not independently verify the reports about Kadyrov or the battlefield reports.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said that its forces repulsed the Ukrainian advance near Bakhmut, where fighting became difficult “not only because of the intensity of the fire and the daily battles, but also because of the terrain. The line of contact runs between two hills.”
Ukrainian military analyst Denis Popovich said that Ukrainian forces had taken “important positions near Klyshchevka.
“This will allow artillery control of Klishchevka itself, parts of Bakhmut, and supply routes,” he said. Radio Ukraine NV. “Just as Wagner besieged the city, so do we.”
(Reporting by Ron Popeschi and Nick Starkoff; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Leslie Adler)