Ukraine war: Kyiv claims advances made towards Bakhmut - how has Russia responded to counter-offensive so far?

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Ukrainian troops made advances in the cities of Bakhmut and Zaporizhzhia as the counter-offensive began

Kyiv has said that Ukrainian troops have made gradual progress in the Donetsk region of the country as the spring counter-offensive continues.

Military officials have said that troops have advanced more than one kilometre towards the city of Bakhmut. Ukrainian troops have been fighting intensely with Russian troops in the region since the beginning of the counter-offensive.

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Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine's eastern military command said: “The defence forces continue to hold the initiative there, putting pressure on the enemy, conducting assault operations, advancing along the northern and southern flanks. In particular, over the past day, they have advanced more than one kilometre."

Military experts and analysts have pinpointed the village of Klishchiivka as being vital to Ukraine's pursuit of regaining Bakhmut. An armed forces spokesperson has said that troops have so far seen "partial success" in the town, which had been captured during Russia's takeover of Bakhmut in May.

However, Russian news agency RIA has contested claims of "partial success" for Ukrainian forces in the village, instead stating that Russian troops had held back the advances.

The counter-offensive continues as it was announced that the US would be sending cluster munitions to aid Kyiv's fight. Ukraine has continued to appeal to its Western allies for more ammunition and weapons amid a shortage.

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Where has Ukraine gained ground since launching its counteroffensive?

Along with making advances towards Bakhmut, Ukraine has made some progress since the beginning of the counter-offensive. This includes liberating villages located in the so-called “Vremivka ledge”, a section of the front line where the Russian-controlled area protrudes into territory held by Ukraine.

The area has become one of several epicentres of intense fighting. The Russian defence ministry has not confirmed the Russian retreat from the villages, but PA reports some military bloggers have acknowledged the loss of Russian control.

Russian authorities, meanwhile, have said their troops have largely held their ground along the more than 600-mile arc of front line along southern and eastern Ukraine.

The villages are located in the so-called “Vremivka ledge”, a section of the front line where the Russian-controlled area protrudes into territory held by Ukraine (Image: NationalWorld)The villages are located in the so-called “Vremivka ledge”, a section of the front line where the Russian-controlled area protrudes into territory held by Ukraine (Image: NationalWorld)
The villages are located in the so-called “Vremivka ledge”, a section of the front line where the Russian-controlled area protrudes into territory held by Ukraine (Image: NationalWorld) | NationalWorld

Does this mean the counteroffensive will succeed?

Western analysts and military officials have warned that any effort to rid entrenched, powerfully armed and skilled Russian troops will likely take months, and the success of any Ukrainian counter-offensive is far from certain.

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On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “counter-offensive, defensive actions are taking place” without specifying it was an all-out counter-offensive, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that the counter-offensive had started – and Ukrainian forces were taking “significant losses”.

He did not elaborate, and Ukrainian authorities have not publicly specified losses among their troops, AP reports.

Russia’s defence ministry earlier said it had thwarted a “large-scale” assault by Ukraine in the eastern province of Donetsk on 4 June. Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the “enemy’s goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front” but “the enemy did not achieve its tasks” and had “no success”.

He said Russian forces had killed 250 Ukrainian personnel and destroyed 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armoured combat vehicles. Ukraine has not commented on the report.

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How has Russia responded to Ukraine's ongoing counter-offensive?

With Ukraine appearing to make advances in the Donetsk region with its counter-attack, Russia has continued to pummel Ukrainian cities with missile strikes.

Most recently, six people were killed in a Russian strike on a Lviv apartment building on 5 July, with officials claiming it to be the biggest strike on a western Ukrainian city yet. Around 35 buildings are believed to have been destroyed in the strike, with a further 40 people injured.

In addition to this, at least 43 people were injured in a strike on a residential building in the Kharkiv region a day prior.

Russia's ability to push back against Ukraine's counter-offensive and any surprise advances may now also be hindered after the country's paramilitary mercenary group, the Wagner Group, was exiled from the Russia following the attempted armed rebellion in Moscow.

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However, experts have stated that Russia's actions in hitting major cities could be a prolonged strategy to "outlast" Ukraine in the war. Professor Mark Galeotti told NationalWorld: “I don't think Putin is really imagining that he can win this war on the battlefield on now. Instead, he hopes to basically outlast to outlast Ukraine's will and capacity to keep fighting, but also outlast the West's willingness to dump billions of pounds, euros and dollars every month into supporting Ukraine and the war effort.”

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