Battles intensify in eastern Ukraine as Russian army is bombing Ukrainian infrastructure

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Russia said that its forces had breached two strong lines of defense in eastern Ukraine, while Kiev’s Western allies pledged to step up military aid to improve its armaments as it prepares to launch a counterattack.

Backed by tens of thousands of reservists called up in December, Russia has stepped up its offensives in southern and eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks, and is widely expected to launch a new major offensive as the first anniversary of the start of the invasion approaches.

“The enemy’s offensive continues in the east, with round-the-clock attacks,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said.

She wrote on her Telegram channel on Wednesday, “The situation is critical, but our fighters don’t allow the enemy to achieve its goals and inflict heavy losses on it”.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Ukrainian forces had retreated in the face of Russian operations in the Lugansk region, but it didn’t give further details.

“During the offensive… Ukrainian forces retreated indiscriminately to a distance of up to three kilometers from the lines they previously occupied,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on their Telegram channel.

“Even the enemy’s most fortified second line of defense couldn’t withstand the advance of the Russian army,” Russian Defense Ministry added.

The Russian Defense Ministry didn’t specify in which part of the Lugansk region the attack took place.

In Kiev, the military administration announced the shot down of six Russian balloons, which may have been carrying reconnaissance equipment, after air raid sirens sounded.

“The Russian balloons may have been launched to monitor and exhaust our air defenses,” the Ukrainian military administration announced on their Telegram channel.

On the other hand, Russia hasn’t yet commented on the issue.

The main effort that Russia is currently making is an artillery and ground attack on the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said that Russian forces launched attacks on several residential areas, such as Paraskovivka on the northern approaches to Bakhmut, over the past day.

He added in a YouTube video that Russian attempts to advance in two other residential areas north of Bakhmut were repulsed.

“The situation is very difficult for our forces there, with Russian forces being sent to the region in large numbers,” Zhdanov said.

Maxim Gorin, a military analyst and former commander, told Ukrainian radio station NV that the Russians are attacking the villages of Opetny and Klychevka, which are located on the southern approaches to Bakhmut.

He added that fierce battles also took place in Krasna Gora, to the north of Bakhmut, where the Ukrainians suffered losses.

“The city can be supplied and the wounded evacuated,” he said… We can still maintain our defense for a long time”.

In its evening report, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated that Russian forces bombed more than 15 towns and villages near Pakhmut, as well as the city itself.

The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kirilenko, posted photos and videos of a residential building full of rubble, which he said was in the city of Pokrovsk, southwest of Bakhmut, and was destroyed, killing three people.

Capturing Bakhmut would give Russia a springboard for a push towards the two larger cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, further west in Donetsk, which would restore momentum ahead of the first anniversary of the invasion on February 2022.

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