Ukrainian officials say forces make headway in east, south
PHOTO CAPTION: Representational photo — A Ukrainian service member is seen during a training exercise, March 11, 2023. (Reuters)
(Reuters) - Ukrainian forces are making some headway in both the eastern and southern theatres of their four-month-old counteroffensive, military officials said on Monday.
Russian accounts of the fighting said Moscow's forces had repelled Ukrainian attacks near the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut and inflicted heavy casualties in strikes on Ukrainian positions outside the city.
Ukraine's counteroffensive aims to secure control of areas around Bakhmut in order to recapture the town, which was seized by Russian forces in May after months of heavy battles. In the south, Kyiv wants to advance to the Sea of Azov to sever a Russian land bridge linking areas it occupies in the south and east.
Ilia Yevlash, a spokesperson for Ukraine's eastern group of forces, said troops had scored a "partial success" near Andriivka, which they captured last month along with the nearby locality of Klishhiivka.
"We are repelling constant attacks near Klishchiivka and Andriivka, Yevlash told national television.
"Every day we are making headway in the Bakhmut sector. We are talking about hundreds of metres at a time that we are liberating from our enemies and strengthening our positions. It is, however, too early to talk about achieving concrete goals."
Ukrainian prosecutors in Donetsk region, the focal point of Russia's campaign in the east, said Russian forces had shelled areas east of the Russian-held town of Donetsk, killing one person. The coking town of Avdiivka, which has resisted Russian advances for months, was also shelled.
General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of forces in the south, wrote on Telegram that Kyiv's troops were continuing offensive operations in the drive southward.
"We have had partial success to the west of Verbove," he said, referring to one of a cluster of villages that Ukraine is targeting, with the larger town of Tokmak the next large target.
Ukraine's counteroffensive has made slow progress in both theatres, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials have denied suggestions by Western critics that Ukraine has failed to achieve its objectives and is hampered by strategic errors.
Nineteen months after Russia's invasion, its forces about 18% of Ukrainian territory, according to Western estimates.
(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Leslie Adler)