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Russia ramps up attacks on key cities in eastern Ukraine

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Russia ramps up attacks on key cities in eastern Ukraine

Russian forces have increased attacks in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to gain ground near two key frontline cities, Ukrainian military officials have said.

Moscow’s troops have begun a push to regain territory near Bakhmut, the eastern mining city that was the site of the war’s bloodiest battle before falling into Russian hands in May, the head of Ukraine’s ground forces wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainian troops had recaptured the heights over Bakhmut and made some advances to the city’s west, north and south since Kyiv launched its summer counter-offensive.

“Toward Bakhmut, the Russians have become more active and are trying to recapture previously lost positions. Enemy attacks are being repelled,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said.

Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive has so far resulted in only incremental gains and heavy losses, with Ukrainian troops struggling to punch through Russian lines in the south.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s forces have attempted to press forward in the north-east, likely with a view to distract Kyiv and minimise the number of troops it is able to send to key southern and eastern battles.

The Ukrainian ground forces’ spokesman similarly reported that Russian troops had “switched from defence to active defence” near Bakhmut, “putting pressure” on Ukrainian troops south of the city.

Vladimir Fityo made the remarks on Ukrainian TV, adding that Russian troops were searching for weak points in Ukrainian defences and ramping up artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions.

Ukraine’s general staff said Russian troops are also continuing their weeks-long push to encircle Avdiivka, an Ukrainian stronghold south of Bakhmut and a key target since the beginning of the war.

It is considered the gateway to parts of the eastern Donetsk region under Kyiv’s control. The general staff said the air force is playing a key part in the latest Russian assault.

General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who leads Ukrainian troops fighting in and near Avdiivka, said on Sunday that the attacking Russian forces are ramping up air strikes, particularly those using guided bombs.

He wrote on Telegram that Russian troops over the previous day had launched 30 air strikes and 712 artillery barrages at the city and surrounding areas, and clashed almost 50 times with Ukrainian units.

In the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, a 64-year-old man was killed and his wife was badly injured when Russian shells slammed into their property, Ukrainian officials said.

Russian forces shelled Kherson and the surrounding region 62 times over the previous 24 hours, a spokesman added, wounding four civilians and damaging one of the city’s libraries.

The city has come under near-daily attacks since Ukraine recaptured it a year ago.