Ukrainian soldiers fought off fierce Russian attacks on the battlefield on Wednesday as the invading troops continued to recapture lost territory in eastern Ukraine, military officials said.
Some progress was also seen in southern Ukraine – another pocket of heavy territorial battle in Russia’s 20-month-old invasion.
"We continue to repel intense enemy attacks near Klishchiivka and Andriivka. The enemy is still storming these positions with the hope of recapturing lost positions, but without success," Ilia Yevlash, a spokesperson for Ukraine‘s eastern group of forces, told national television.
The two villages – Klishchiivka and Andriivka – near Bakhmut were retaken from Russian control in mid-September in a span of three days, marking a significant territorial feat in the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
There had been 544 Russian shelling incidents in the past 24 hours in the area, seven combat clashes and four air attacks, the military spokesperson said.
Officials, including president Volodymyr Zelensky, also confirmed advances in the fighting.
“True Ukrainian fury against the occupiers in our Donetsk region! The Bakhmut direction, including fierce battles for Klishchiivka,” he said and mentioned “our advance in the Donetsk sector” in the east but did not share more details.
Air strikes were also reported on four localities in the area by Ukraine’s General Staff who said 15 towns and villages had come under artillery and mortar attack in the past day.
The heavy fighting in the region was also corroborated by Russia’s defence ministry who mentioned heavy fighting and said its forces had beaten back 10 attacks by Ukrainian troops near Klishchiivka and further south, near the village of Nevelske.
In its next target on the battlefield, Ukrainian forces are eyeing several other villages as they progress through Zaporizhzhia region towards the major town of Tokmak.
Military analyst Roman Svitan said there have been “three or four days of painstaking hard work by our assault group and commanders in the area which have led to very serious problems for the Russians”.
"I would not speak of a breakthrough until we reach Tokmak."
Tokmak, a Ukrainian city in south-central point in Zaporizhzhia oblast and just 12 miles from the frontline, is considered to be a critical mark in territorial fight which will give Kyiv’s forces a leverage to advance further and repel more Russian attacks.
Ukraine fired its counteroffensive salvo in June to recoup ground in the east. Its forces are also trying to advance southward to the Sea of Azov to sever a land bridge established by Russia between the annexed Crimean Peninsula and positions it holds in the east.