Major Russian assault in Vuhledar unlikely to yield breakthrough, UK says

An aerial view shows damaged buildings, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Vuhledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, in this screen grab taken from a handout video released on January 27, 2023. 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade via Facebook/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - A major new Russian assault on the Ukrainian-held bastion of Vuhledar could make local gains but is unlikely to lead to an operational breakthrough, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday.

In an intelligence update, the British ministry said Russia had been assaulting the coal mining town with a force at least the size of a brigade, a unit that normally comprises several thousand troops.

"There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the sector. However, it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough."

It said Russian commanders were probably trying to "develop a new axis of advance" into Ukrainian-held territory in the Donetsk region, and to divert Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut further north, the main focus of Russia's offensive effort for months.

Vuhledar lies at the southern-most end of the eastern front in Ukraine, overlooking railway lines that supply Russian forces on the adjacent southern front. Ukraine has repelled several Russian attacks on the town since the start of the war.

The administrator of Russian-held territory in the Donetsk region has claimed that Russian forces have secured a foothold inside Vuhledar since launching their latest assault there. Kyiv says it has repelled the assault.

(Reporting by Jyoti Narayan in Bengaluru and Peter Graff in London; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Frank Jack Daniel)

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