© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 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, Ukrai
KYIV (Reuters) – Fighting in eastern Ukraine has “somewhat intensified” as Ukrainian and Russian forces clash in at least three areas on the eastern front, a senior Ukrainian defence official said on Sunday.
Kyiv launched a long-awaited counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory last month and has made incremental gains in parts of the east and south.
Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram that Russian forces have been attacking in the direction of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region for two successive days.
“We are on the defensive,” Maliar wrote. “There are fierce battles, the positions of both sides change dynamically several times a day.”
Maliar also said the two armies were pummelling one another around the ruined city of Bakhmut but that Ukrainian forces were “gradually moving forward” along its southern flank.
She added that Kyiv’s troops were also fending off Russian attacks near Avdiivka and Maryinka.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with state television, part of which was released on Sunday, that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was “not succeeding” and that attempts to break through Russian defences had failed.