The front lines in the Ukraine war yesterday shifted as Russia made some advances in the fiercely contested eastern Donbas region and the Ukrainian military waged a counteroffensive near the strategic Russian-held city of Izium.
In the west of Ukraine near the Polish border, missiles destroyed military infrastructure overnight and were fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian forces have notched up a string of successes since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, forcing Russia’s commanders to abandon an advance on Kyiv and then making rapid gains in the northeast to drive them out of Ukraine’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv.
Since the middle of last month, Russian forces have focused much of their firepower on Donbas after failing to take the capital.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said it had carried out “high-precision” missile strikes on four artillery munitions depots in the Donetsk area in the east of Ukraine.
Airstrikes had also destroyed two missile-launching systems and radar, while 15 Ukrainian drones were taken out near Donetsk and Lugansk, it added.
The claims came as UK defense chiefs said Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region had “lost momentum.”
Demoralized Russian troops had failed to make substantial gains and Moscow’s battle plan was “significantly behind schedule,” UK Defence Intelligence said in an update. “Russia has now likely suffered losses of one-third of the ground combat force it committed in February.”
“Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days,” it said.
Keeping up pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines would make it harder for Moscow to encircle battle-hardened Ukrainian troops on the eastern front in the Donbas.
Izium straddles the Siverskyi Donets River, about 120 km from Kharkiv on the main highway heading southeast.
“The hottest spot remains the Izium direction,” Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Sinegubov said on social media. “Our armed forces have switched to a counteroffensive there. The enemy is retreating on some fronts and this is the result of the character of our armed forces.”
However, Ukraine’s military acknowledged setbacks in an update yesterday morning.
“Despite losses, Russian forces continue to advance in the Lyman, Sievierodonetsk, Avdiivka and Kurakhiv areas in the broader Donbas region,” it said.
Both sides claimed success in military strikes in Donbas.
The Ukrainian military said there was no let-up yesterday in Russia’s bombardment of the Azovstal steel works in the southern port of Mariupol, where a few hundred Ukrainian fighters are holding out, weeks after the city fell into Russian hands.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said talks were under way seeking a way to evacuate wounded soldiers from Mariupol in return for the release of Russian prisoners of war.
Additional reporting by AFP
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