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Russia, Ukraine differ in accounts of Bakhmut fighting

Ukrainian soldiers have captured Russian trenches on the frontline near Bakhmut, officials say.

Ukrainian soldiers have captured Russian trenches on the frontline near Bakhmut, officials say. Photo: AAP

Russia says its forces have struck three Ukrainian army groups near Bakhmut but Kyiv says its troops, despite limited control in the long-contested city, have the Russians all but pinned down.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar also reported fierce fighting further north around the town of Lyman, recaptured by Ukrainian forces late last year.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group captured the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut in May after 10 months of fighting.

The Russian army in the area has since come under fierce pressure from Ukrainian forces who threaten to encircle it.

The Russian defence ministry made no comment in its daily briefing on reports Russian forces had retreated from the village of Klishchiivka, southwest of Bakhmut.

A Russian-installed official in eastern Ukraine denied the reports.

Ukraine has said its forces have had “partial success” in the Klishchiivka area.

Russia’s RIA news agency cited a Russian army source as saying Moscow’s forces had repelled a Ukrainian attack there without retreating and were finishing off remaining Ukrainian troops in the area.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleskandr Musiyenko said securing Klishchiivka was “important as it would lead to the liberation of Bakhmut itself”.

“It would open communications and eliminate their [Russian] supply routes,” he told Ukraine’s NV Radio.

“It also gives access to heights from which Ukrainian artillery can better operate.”

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield situation.

Deputy Defence Minister Maliar, speaking on Ukrainian television, acknowledged that after Russia’s capture of Bakhmut in May, Kyiv’s forces controlled only small areas of the city.

“If we are talking about Bakhmut itself, the enemy practically finds itself in a trap,” she said.

“On the one hand, they control the major part of the city and we control only the south-west, but they cannot move about the city.

“Our forces won’t let them and in practical terms they can’t leave.

“Our troops won’t allow that.”

Ukrainian troops were making some gains south of Bakhmut, although it was too early to describe this as an advance, Ms Maliar said, adding fierce fighting was gripping areas north of the city.

She said Russian forces were trying to advance near Lyman but were gaining no ground in any single direction nearby.

In an evening report on Facebook, the general staff of Ukraine’s military said it had repelled a Russian attack on the village of Bohdanivka, on the western approaches to Bakhmut.

Russian attacks were also thwarted both north and south of the city, it said.

Russia’s Tass news agency, meanwhile, reported the number of dead recorded in 24 hours had risen to eight in what it described as shelling of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk.

Tass also quoted emergency services in Makiivka, adjacent to Donetsk, as saying Ukrainian shelling had set ablaze parts of an oil storage depot.

Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday it had destroyed a formation of Russian forces in Makiivka.

– AAP

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