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Article: Ukrainian troops dig in after “partial success” in south, fighting rages in east

Weapons of Ukrainian service members are seen in a trench at position at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine

Ukrainian troops dig in after “partial success” in south, fighting rages in east

PHOTO CAPTION: Weapons of Ukrainian service members are seen in a trench at position at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 5, 2023. Ukraine Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS/File Photo



By Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian forces are digging in and attacking on the southern front after having "partial success" in the last day, and are weathering a big Russian assault in the east, a senior defence official said on Wednesday.

Ukraine has reported recapturing eight villages in the south in the last two weeks. Though small, the advances are the biggest by the Ukrainian military since November as they push into heavily fortified and mined Russian-held areas.

"They had partial success over the past day, they have consolidated at the boundaries that were reached and they have evened up the front line," Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said.

She said Kyiv's forces were continuing offensive operations towards the city of Melitopol, a Russian stronghold deep in occupied territory, and towards Berdiansk on the Sea of Azov.

Kyiv has prepared for months for a counteroffensive seen as a crucial juncture in Russia's war, but has imposed a communications blackout and independent reporting is scarce.

Military analysts say it is too early to draw conclusions about the success or otherwise of the two weeks of operations.

They say Kyiv is yet to commit the bulk of its forces, a chunk of which were trained and equipped by the West, but that Ukraine's forward positions remain some distance from Russia's main defensive line.

Russia and Ukraine have both reported inflicting heavy casualties on the other. Reuters journalists who visited two liberated villages last week saw the bodies of dead Russian soldiers on the ground as well as burnt-out armoured vehicles.

In her statement on the Telegram messenger, Maliar reported heavy fighting in the east, especially near the town of Lyman which Kyiv recaptured from Russian forces in October.

"In the east, the defenders continue to hold back a large-scale assault by Russian forces in the Lyman and Bakhmut directions," Maliar said.

She said the east remained the main focus of Russia's offensive actions and that Moscow still aimed to reach the boundaries of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk which make up the industrial Donbas area.

Russia said its air defences had downed three drones in the Moscow region on Wednesday in what it called an attempted Ukrainian attack.

Reuters could not independently verify the situation on the battlefield.

(Editing by Timothy Heritage)



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