Ukraine reports small advances against Russian forces
PHOTO CAPTION: Ukrainian servicemen, of the 10th separate mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, prepare to fire a mortar at their positions at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine July 13, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo
KYIV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian military on Tuesday reported making small advances against Russian forces in parts of southern Ukraine and south of Bakhmut in the east.
In a counteroffensive launched early last month, Kyiv is trying to drive the Russian forces back in eastern Ukraine and to advance towards the southern coast to sever a land bridge between Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea.
Progress has been slower than widely expected, but Ukraine has said it is trying to minimise casualties as its forces face fortified Russian defensive lines strewn with landmines.
Andriy Kovaliov, spokesperson for the Armed forces General Staff, said Ukrainian troops had moved forward in the direction of the southeastern village of Staromayorske, near settlements recaptured by Ukraine last month in the Donetsk region.
The Ukrainian troops were reinforcing the positions they had taken, and Russian forces were mounting strong resistance, he said.
In the east, he said, Ukrainian troops had driven Russian units from positions near the village of Andriivka southwest of the largely destroyed city of Bakhmut which Russian forces captured in May.
Ukrainian forces were also conducting offensive operations north and south of Bakhmut, he said.
Aided by weapons supplied by Western allies, Kyiv has retaken more than 192 sq km (74.13 sq miles) of land in the south and 35 sq km in the east since launching its counteroffensive, a senior defence official said on Monday.
Russia still holds vast swathes of territory 17 months after its full-scale invasion, and has not acknowledged that Ukraine has made gains in the counteroffensive. Its reports of the fighting paint a different picture to Kyiv's, and it has been carrying out air strikes across Ukraine.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield developments.
(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka and Kyiv newsroom, Editing by Timothy Heritage)