Ukraine closes in on village near Bakhmut amid Russian losses in east and south

Ukraine’s military has “good news” in the eastern front of the battlefield where heavy fighting is underway to regain ground, deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar has said, saying Kyiv’s forces were making gains near Bakhmut.

“We are moving forward in the Bakhmut direction. The main battles continue in the districts of Andriivka, Kurdyumivka, Klishchiivka. And we have good news there – Andriivka. The situation is very complex and changeable, we keep our fingers crossed,” the deputy defence minister said in her official Telegram channel on Thursday evening.

Initially, the minister claimed Ukrainian forces had retaken Andriivka village, which falls south of Bakhmut, but the country’s Third Assault Brigade fighting in the region said the report was “premature”.

“Currently, serious and heavy fighting continues in the districts of Klishchiivka and Andriivka,” the brigade from Ukraine’s ground forces handling military operations on the eastern front said.

Ms Maliar also said Vladimir Putin’s troops had sustained “significant losses” in attacks on key towns as Ukrainian forces are bolstering their efforts to capture clusters of villages in a drive towards the Sea of Azov.

The Russian casualties had “significantly reduced their ability to defend themselves”, she said.

Senior military officials said heavy casualties have been inflicted on Russian forces on the southern front, with over 600 deaths of Russian soldiers.

“The enemy, as a result of attempts to recapture at least some of the lost positions in the Tavria (south) direction in the last two days has lost 15 tanks and 12 armoured vehicles,” Oleksander Shtupun, spokesperson for troops on the southern front, said on national television.

Russian personnel losses stand at 665 over two days, he said.

As part of a critical component of Ukraine’s four-month-old counteroffensive, the country’s forces are pushing southward with the aim to split a land bridge created by Russian forces between the Crimean peninsula and the areas Ukraine holds in the east.

Russia’s defence ministry claimed its forces repelled eight attacks in the east in the hotly contested areas south of Bakhmut.

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Ukraine’s military confirmed attacks on two Russian patrol ships early on Thursday and said it destroyed a sophisticated air defence system in the west of occupied Crimea.

President Volodymyr Zelensky marked a direct and rare celebration of the attacks on the Russian navy in his nightly address.

“The entire staff of the Security Service of Ukraine and our Navy should be specially commended for this. I thank you for today’s triumph – the destruction of the occupiers’ air defence system on the land of our Crimea. It is a very significant achievement, well done! Glory to all who fight for Ukraine! And thank you to everyone who helps!” he said in his nightly address.

The war-hit nation has been pushing back in the southern region and making increasing missile hits on the Crimean peninsula this week to challenge Mr Putin’s control in the Black Sea region.

On Wednesday, Kyiv said it seriously damaged a Russian submarine and landing ship undergoing repairs in a missile strike on a shipyard in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

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