Ukraine says Russia eases Bakhmut attacks, Kyiv talks up counteroffensive

  • World
  • Sunday, 28 May 2023

FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian service member from a 28th separate mechanised brigade named after the Knights of the Winter Campaign of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, prepares to fire a mortar at his positions at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 18, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo

KYIV (Reuters) -Russian troops have temporarily eased attacks in and around the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to regroup and strengthen their capabilities, a senior Kyiv official said on Saturday.

Separately, senior Ukrainian officials indicated their forces were ready to launch a long-promised counteroffensive to recapture territory taken by Russia since the start of the war.

Russia's Wagner private army began handing over positions to regular troops this week after declaring full control of Bakhmut following the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.

Kyiv though has insisted that its forces still control a small part of the city.

In a statement on Telegram, Ukraine Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Russian troops were continuing to attack but that overall offensive activity had decreased.

"Yesterday and today there have not been any active battles - neither in the city nor on the flanks," she wrote, adding that Moscow's troops were instead shelling the outskirts and approaches to Bakhmut.

"(Russian) troops are being replaced and regrouped," Maliar said. "The enemy is trying to strengthen its own capabilities."

Kyiv is expected to launch a highly anticipated counteroffensive soon to retake Russian-occupied territory.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the push could begin "tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a week".

Presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak, speaking to Britain's Guardian newspaper, said preliminary operations such as destroying supply lines or blowing up depots had already begun.

The governor of the southern Russian region of Belgorod said he had come under artillery fire on Saturday when trying to enter the town of Shebekino, which is only about 7 km (4.5 miles) north of the border with Ukraine.

"I couldn't even get out of the car. Shells were exploding in a neighbouring street," Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram. This week Ukraine-based ethnic Russian fighters launched a cross-border raid into the region.

Ukraine's top general, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, posted a sleekly produced video on Saturday showing Ukrainian troops swearing an oath and preparing for battle.

"The time has come to return what is ours," he wrote.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk and David Ljunggren; Editing by Conor Humphries, David Gregorio and Daniel Wallis)

Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In World

Socialists would win Spain election over conservative PP, poll shows
ICC war crimes tribunal hobbled by hacking incident -sources
Canada imposes sanctions against members of Haiti's economic elite
Kenya pledges security boost as it commemorates 2013 mall massacre
Libya floods sweep away migrants, and their hopes
Armenia needs peace, PM says after Azerbaijan retakes Karabakh
Pakistan sets election for January, likely minus Imran Khan
Azerbaijan ally Turkey says it played no direct role in Karabakh operation
AI’s ‘insane’ translation mistakes endanger US asylum cases
South Korea lawmakers vote to pave way for opposition leader's arrest

Others Also Read