Ukraine Reports Tough Russian Onslaught in Eastern Areas But Says It's Making Progress in South

Ukrainian forces are resisting a Russian onslaught in eastern areas of the front and face difficulties in the northeast, but are making progress near the shattered city of Bakhmut and in the south, the deputy defence minister said on Sunday.

Russian accounts of the front line said Moscow's forces had repelled Ukrainian attacks near villages ringing Bakhmut and in areas further south, particularly the strategic hilltop town of Vuhlear. They also reported success in containing Ukrainian troops in the northeast.

Reuters could not confirm any of the battlefield accounts.

Military strike in Kherson
Military strike in Kherson Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, meanwhile, presented awards to troops in the port of Odesa and vowed: "The enemy will in no way dictate its terms in the Black Sea!"

Ukraine's military have been engaged in a counter-offensive to recapture areas of the east and south seized in Russia's 16-month-old invasion. The initial Ukrainian advances have focused on securing clusters of villages in the south.

Deputy Ukrainian Defence Minister Hanna Maliar, writing on Telegram, said "everywhere things are hot" in the east, with Russian forces advancing near the beleaguered cities of Avdiivka and Maryinka in Donetsk region.

"In addition, the enemy has started an attack in the Svatove area," she said, referring to a region of northeastern Ukraine where Russian forces have been active. "Fierce fighting is taking place...The situation is quite complicated."

Maliar reported "partial success" south of Bakhmut, taken in late May by Russian forces after months of fierce fighting.

Volodymyr Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky Screengrab

And on the southern front, where Ukrainian forces have recaptured several villages, Maliar said there had been "gradual advances" in two areas.

"Our troops are facing intense enemy resistance, remote mining and the redeployment of enemy reserves, but are tirelessly creating the conditions for the fastest possible advance," she wrote.

General Oleksander Tarnavskiy, responsible for the southern front, said Ukrainian forces were "systematically destroying the enemy" and reported the deaths of several hundred Russian forces over then last 24 hours.

Zelenskiy and Ukraine's commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhniy, have reported steady, if slow, advances in the campaign. The president acknowledges progress is limited, but says the drive is "not a Hollywood movie" with instant success.

Ukraine has also had to endure persistent Russian air attacks on Ukrainian cities, though the Kremlin denies attacking civilian targets.

Russia launched an overnight drone attack on Kyiv and the surrounding region on Sunday after a 12-day break, with air defence systems destroying all the weapons on their approach.