The Ukrainian President admits the difficulties faced by his forces in the front

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that the Ukrainian army is facing difficulties on the front lines in the east and south, but it’s holding the lead in its counter-offensive.

Senior Ukrainian military officials have spoken of gains in the east, the epicenter of the 17-month-old conflict, over the ruined Russian-held city of Bakhmut.

Last June, Ukraine launched a counter-offensive to the east and south, as it hopes to advance to the Sea of ​​Azov and cut a Russian land bridge between occupied parts of the east and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Russia said its forces repelled Ukrainian attacks near Bakhmut and in the north, where heavy fighting also took place, and on the southern front.

In his evening video address, Zelensky said that the Ukrainian forces faced fierce Russian resistance in all sectors of the front.

“There is fierce fighting… The occupiers are trying to stop our men with all their might… Very fierce attacks,” referring to Bakhmut and other regions in the east.

“In the south, everything is difficult, but whatever the enemy does, the Ukrainian forces are in control,” he said.

Zelensky said Russian drone attacks, including an attack on shipping infrastructure at a port on the Danube River, highlight the need to improve Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defenses.

“In all, the terrorists used at least 1,961 (Iranian-made) Shahid drones against Ukraine, and we managed to shoot down a large number of them,” he added.

“Unfortunately, not all of them… We’re working on dropping more of them, dropping as many as possible… We’re working to have more anti-aircraft systems,” he said.

The Commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, General Oleksandr Sersky, said he would meet with officers in the east to speed up the advance, which Zelensky and other officials acknowledged was slower than they had hoped.

“In the Bakhmut sector, I devote my work to current problems related to accelerating the pace of progress, prospects for strengthening activity and solving problems that impede the implementation of tasks,” Sersky wrote on Telegram.

Spokesman for the eastern group of Ukrainian forces, Serhiy Cherevaty, said that the Ukrainian forces were advancing regularly and relentlessly on the outskirts of Bakhmut, which Russian forces seized in May after several months of fighting.

“We’re talking about hundreds of meters every day and kilometers during the week,” Cherevaty said in remarks reported by Ukrainian media.

On the other hand, the Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces thwarted eight Ukrainian attempts to advance near Bakhmut and nearby areas.

The Russian Defense Ministry added that it had confronted two Ukrainian offensives near Liman and Svatov in the north and halted attempts to advance in the south.

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