KYIV: Ukraine on Monday (May 15) hailed its first substantial battlefield advances in six months as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy won pledges for new long-range drones in Britain to add to a haul of Western arms for a counteroffensive against Russian invaders.
Since last week, the Ukrainian military has started to push Russian forces back in and around the embattled city of Bakhmut, its first significant offensive operations since its troops recaptured the southern city of Kherson in November.
“The advance of our troops along the Bakhmut direction is the first success of offensive actions in the defence of Bakhmut,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of Ground Forces, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.
“The last few days have shown that we can move forward and destroy the enemy even in such extremely difficult conditions,” he said. “We are fighting with fewer resources than the enemy. At the same time, we are able to ruin its plans.”
In its evening battlefield update on Monday, Ukraine’s army General Staff said Russian forces were pressing efforts backed by heavy shelling to gain ground but had failed to advance around the village of Ivanivske on the city’s western fringes.
The battle for Bakhmut has become the longest and bloodiest of the war and has totemic significance for Russia, which has no other prizes to show for a winter campaign that cost thousands of lives.
Over the past half year, Kyiv has dug in on the defensive while Moscow mounted its campaign, sending hundreds of thousands of fresh reservists and mercenaries into Europe’s bloodiest ground combat since World War Two.
Kyiv is now preparing a counteroffensive using hundreds of new tanks and armoured vehicles sent by Western countries since the start of 2023, aiming to recapture the sixth of Ukraine’s territory Moscow claims to have annexed.