Russian forces hold the line in Kherson as Ukraine counterstrikes | Russia-Ukraine war News

Russia says its forces have been fighting oncoming Ukrainian troops to a standstill in the south of the country, inflicting “significant casualties”.

Russian soldiers held their positions during “bitter fighting” in the Kherson region, and Ukrainian troops were also attacked in the eastern region of Donetsk, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

“The enemy tried to break through the defenses of Russian troops in the Koshara and Pyatykhatky areas of the Kherson region with forces of up to three battalions, including a tank battalion,” said spokesman for the Main Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov.

“Russian army units held their positions in fierce fighting and inflicted significant casualties on the enemy,” he said.

Al Jazeera has not been able to independently verify the battlefield reports.

The Presidential Office of Ukraine said the Moscow military shelled towns and villages along the front line in the east and continued “active hostilities” in the Kherson region.

Ukrainian army spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun said the Russians had started evacuating “state institutions” from the Kherson region to Crimea. Shtupun said the Ukrainian army carried out 20 attacks over the past day.

Russian forces targeted more than 30 towns and villages across Ukraine and launched five missiles and 23 airstrikes and up to 60 missile strikes, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.

The fighting was particularly intense in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk and in the strategically important province of Kherson. They were three of the four provinces that Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed as part of Russia last month.

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Konashenkov admitted that Russia attacked Ukrainian regions on Sunday.

“Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have continued to attack Ukraine’s military command and control facilities and power system with long-range, high-precision air-launched weapons,” Konashenkov said. “The strike goals have been achieved. All assigned targets have been hit.”

Shelling by Ukrainian forces damaged the administration building in the city of Donetsk, capital of Donetsk region, the head of the Russian-backed administration said on Sunday.

“That was a direct hit. The building is badly damaged. It’s a miracle nobody was killed,” said Alexey Kulemzin while examining the wreck.

Ukraine did not immediately respond to the attack on the city of Donetsk, which was annexed by Russian-backed separatists in 2014 along with much of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Battle for Bachmut

The momentum of the war has shifted to Ukraine after it launched a series of counterattacks seven weeks ago. Its military has recaptured towns and villages that Russia took at the start of the war.

While Russia has withdrawn in much of Ukraine, Ukrainian troops are on the defensive in the eastern Donetsk city of Bakhmut.

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday fighting was raging in the area.

“The main hotspots in Donbass are Soledar and Bakhmut,” said Zelenskyy in his nightly video address. “There is very fierce fighting there.”

Ukrainian soldiers still control the north and west of the city. Pro-Russian separatists have advanced east and south of Bakhmut, relying on their base in the city of Donetsk, 100km away.

Russian forces have repeatedly attempted to take Bakhmut, which lies on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both in the Donetsk region.

Although Ukrainian forces have retaken thousands of square kilometers of land in their recent counter-offensives in the east and south, officials said progress is likely to slow once Kiev’s forces meet more determined Russian resistance.

In Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Russia said it destroyed three US-made howitzers and a border crossing on the Oskil River set up by Ukrainian forces to transport reserves and ammunition. The river empties south into the Siversky Donets, which meanders through the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

The spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Military Command said Russian forces were suffering from a serious shortage of equipment, including ammunition, due to the damage caused by an explosion on a bridge connecting the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula with Russia last weekend .

“Almost 75 percent [of Russian military supplies in southern Ukraine] came over this bridge,” Natalia Humeniuk told Ukrainian TV, adding that strong winds also stopped ferries in the area.

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“Now even the sea is on our side,” she said.

stage ground strikes

Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak told Telegram on Sunday that Ukraine will win the war due to the continued military aid it is receiving from the West and the cumulative impact of Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

“Ukraine’s offensive is strategic and Russia’s defeat is inevitable,” Yermak said.

Meanwhile, in western Russia along the border with Ukraine, Russian officials said their air defenses shot down “at least” 16 Ukrainian missiles in the Belgorod region, Russia’s Ria Novosti reported. Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said four people were injured.

Russian authorities in border regions have repeatedly accused Kyiv of firing on their territory and said civilians were injured. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the alleged attacks or commented on them.

Russia has long used Belgorod as a base for shell and missile attacks on Ukrainian territory.

On Saturday, two men from a former Soviet republic who were training at a Russian military firing range in Belgorod opened fire on volunteer soldiers during target practice, killing 11 and wounding 15 before being shot dead themselves.

The Russian Defense Ministry, which reported the killings, called the incident a terrorist attack.

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