Ukraine says it regained nearly 18 sq km of land in past week
PHOTO CAPTION: A Ukrainian service member fire a machine gun during a live fire exercise, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine June 22, 2023. (Reuters)
KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian forces have taken back nearly 18 square km (7 square miles) of territory in the east and the south in the past week in their counteroffensive against Russian forces, a senior defence official said on Monday.
The advances brought the territory recaptured so far during the counteroffensive to more than 210 sq km, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app.
Kyiv began its counteroffensive in early June but Moscow large areas of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine following its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Maliar said Ukrainian troops had retaken 7 sq km in the past week in the direction of the small eastern city of Bakhmut, captured by Russian forces in May after months of combat.
That brought the total territory recaptured in the area to 31 sq km since the counteroffensive began, she said.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, the spokesperson for the eastern military command, said Russia was continuing to bring reserves to the Bakhmut sector and was trying to counterattack.
"The enemy wants to hold on to their positions near Bakhmut and in Bakhmut itself above all," Cherevatyi told Ukrainian TV, adding that the Russian counterattacks had failed.
Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield developments. Russia has not confirmed the Ukrainian reports of territorial gains.
Maliar said that in southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are trying to advance towards the cities of Berdyansk and Melitopol, Kyiv's troops had recaptured nearly 11 sq km in the past week. The took the total territory recaptured in the south to nearly 180 sq km, she said.
Maliar added that Russian forces have been advancing since the end of last week towards the city of Kupiansk in the eastern Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian officials said a 60-year-old man had been hurt in Russian shelling of the eastern region of Kharkiv and two people were wounded in Kramatorsk, also in the east.
(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka and Olena Harmash; Editing by Peter Graff and Timothy Heritage)