Ukraine war: Kyiv claims success as southern fighting intensifies

Ukraine’s military says it has had success on one of the front lines in southeast Ukraine, as Western officials talk of a major thrust taking place.

In a video published by President Zelensky, Ukrainian troops said they had taken the village of Staromaiorske.

The village, 150km (90 miles) east of the city of Zaporizhzhia, was liberated under dense artillery fire and air strikes, said the army.

A senior Ukrainian defence adviser said every advance is seen as “a milestone”.

Ukraine has not confirmed that it has beefed up its counter-offensive, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s attacks had “significantly” intensified.

He told reporters in St Petersburg they had had no success: “All counter-offensive attempts were stopped, and the enemy was pushed back with high casualties.”

Russian-backed militia leader Aleksandr Khodakovsky contradicted Mr Putin, saying Ukraine had methodically shelled Staromaiorske for several days and made gains, holding on to the outskirts and pushing on.

President Zelensky posted video of troops holding up a Ukrainian flag in the village and Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said they were now “continuing to clear the settlement”.

Russian military blogger WarGonzo said the news was disturbing as Staromaiorske was a key Russian outpost on the front line in the south-eastern region of Zaporizhzhia.

Russia’s war bloggers are considered an alternative source of information from the front line in the absence of official accounts.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive began on a number of fronts last month but has seen very few clear gains so far. Kyiv’s generals have warned that fast results are almost impossible because of Russia’s fortified defensive lines and rows of minefields.

The man in charge of operations in the south, Gen Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, has told the BBC that “any defence can be broken but you need patience, time and skilful action”.

Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister, told the BBC Ukrainian forces were making steady progress.

“Every metre, every village and every town is a milestone,” he said.

“Yesterday’s liberation of Stairomaorske is a very logical continuation of our campaign which has begun in early June.

“Those who are impatient should realise that the progress of the Ukrainian armed forces in the given circumstances is very steady.”

Ukraine’s Western armour struggles against Russian defences
Although there has so far been no word from Kyiv, unnamed US defence officials have told American outlets that a new push has begun in the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said an “intense frontal assault” had been launched towards Robotyne, to the south-east of Zaporizhzhia city and some 10km (6 miles) south of the town of Orikhiv.

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