Ukraine has reported heavy fighting in the eastern warfront of Donetsk and claimed its forces have made gains near the devastated city of Bakhmut, which was captured by Russia last month, but Moscow said Kyiv’s forces had failed to advance anywhere on the front lines.
Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesperson for Ukraine’s east military command said that Ukrainian forces had advanced 1.2km (0.75 miles) near Bakhmut over the past 24 hours.
Kyiv's forces posted unverified videos showing soldiers hoisting the Ukrainian flag at a bombed-out building in the village of Blahodatne in Donetsk region and posing with their unit's flag in the adjacent village of Neskuchne.
Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar later said Ukrainian forces had "deoccupied" Makarivka, the next village to the south, and advanced between 300 and 1,500 metres in two directions on the southern front.
"No positions were lost in the directions where our forces are on the defensive," Maliar added on Telegram. Media agencies were unable to independently confirm Ukrainian claims.
Meanwhile, at least three people have been killed in an overnight Russian drone and missile attack in the Black Sea port of Odesa, the city’s military command said, adding that eight Russian drones and two missiles were shot down.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukrainian troops started a long-expected counteroffensive and were suffering “significant” losses in their efforts to punch through Moscow’s defence lines in Ukraine.
“Not in any of the directions have they achieved their goals, this is obvious,” he said.
Russia’s defence ministry said it was continuing to repel Ukrainian attacks in the southern region of Zaporizhia, Russian news agencies reported. Ukrainian officials made little mention of the situation in Zaporizhia but the head of the president’s office said a junior nurse and a plumber had been killed by Russian shelling of a hospital in Huliaipole in the region.