Ukraine claims Bakhmut gains after Russia denials
Ukraine says it has recaptured ground in Bakhmut, a rare advance after months of grinding Russian gains in the eastern city.
Deputy Defence Minister, Hanna Malyar, said Ukrainian forces advanced two kilometres (1.2 miles) in a week.
The claims signal a momentum shift in Bakhmut – but more widely, there is no clear evidence of the much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Russia denied Ukrainian claims but said its troops had regrouped in one area.
Units of the southern group of Russian forces had taken up a better defensive position in the Maloilinivka area, something which took into consideration “the favourable conditions of the Berkhivka reservoir”, Russia’s defence ministry said. Berkhivka is to the north-west of Bakhmut.
However, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said what the Ministry of Defence was talking about “is unfortunately called ‘fleeing’ and not a ‘regrouping'”.
As the intense, bloody battle has worn on, Bakhmut has become symbolically important – though many experts question its tactical value.
In a post on Telegram, Ms Malyar said Bakhmut has become a target of “almost sacred” importance to Russia.
She accused the Kremlin of simultaneously claiming false victories on one hand, while also spreading lies about being short on weapons and ammunition.
Describing the “real situation” over the past week, Ms Malyar claimed Russia suffered significant troop losses, as Ukraine gained 2km without losing any positions.
Earlier, Prigozhin accused regular Russian troops of abandoning positions in Bakhmut.
“The situation on the flanks is developing according to the worst predicted scenario,” he said.
And Russian military bloggers reported Ukrainian advances or troop movements in several areas.
The Institute for the Study of also said Ukrainian forces had probably made gains of 2km in Bakhmut. —BBC