Ukraine Appears to Intensify Attack After Slow Start to Counteroffensive: Live Updates

Ukrainian troopers making ready to fireplace cell artillery towards Russian positions within the Zaporizhzhia area, this month.Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

Russia launched blistering artillery and aerial bombardments throughout southern Ukraine early Thursday, the Ukrainian army stated, an obvious effort to repel an intensifying Ukrainian assault geared toward ripping by way of Moscow’s closely fortified defensive strains.

Russian forces are focusing their “main efforts on preventing the further advance of Ukrainian troops,” the Ukrainian army’s common employees reported. It stated that Ukrainian forces “continue to conduct an offensive operation in Melitopol and Berdyansk directions,” two cities alongside the Sea of Azov, which Ukraine hopes to attain so as to drive a wedge by way of Russian-occupied territory in southern and jap Ukraine.

After almost two months of grueling efforts to grind throughout open fields seeded with mines, battling tree line to tree line in a single ruined hamlet after one other, American officers say that Ukraine has begun the principle thrust of its counteroffensive within the Zaporizhzhia area and deployed hundreds of troopers newly outfitted with Western arms into the battle.

The Ukrainian General Staff, which is liable for Kyiv’s general army technique and has sought to preserve operational secrecy, gave no affirmation that its counteroffensive had entered a brand new section. Privately, Ukrainian officers stated reserve items weren’t but in use and the items already engaged had been nonetheless engaged on creating breaches in Russia’s defenses.

Two American officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity to talk about particulars of the marketing campaign, stated they consider that the middle of Ukraine’s “main thrust” was going down within the path of Robotyne, which is about six miles from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Orikhiv and about 50 miles north of Melitopol.

One Ukrainian army official dismissed the U.S. claims of a serious thrust south of Orikhiv, saying that Ukrainian forces had been in defensive positions round Robotyne.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, talking to reporters whereas visiting Papua New Guinea on Thursday, didn’t touch upon the claims that the counteroffensive was in a brand new section. He stated Kyiv has achieved an excellent job “preserving manpower and equipment” regardless of months of bloody combating, and nonetheless has “a number of options available to them.”

Ukrainian troopers conducting demining coaching workouts within the Zaporizhzhia area in June.Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

Reaching Russian-occupied Melitopol is a key goal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Doing so would sever the so-called land bridge connecting Russian forces in jap Ukraine from these within the south.

In what appeared to be a separate thrust, the Ukrainians reported progress within the path of Berdyansk — a port metropolis about 70 miles east of Melitopol.

Ukrainian Special Forces launched video, verified by The New York Times, that seems to present Ukrainian troopers taking Russian troopers prisoner within the village of Staromaiorske. The village, about 90 miles north of Berdyansk, is close to a cluster of farming hamlets alongside a winding river that Ukrainian forces claimed within the early days of their counteroffensive.

Earlier footage verified by The Times and posted to social media in latest days exhibits Ukraine’s southern advance into Russian-held territory, together with Staromaiorske. One video, posted by a Ukrainian air reconnaissance staff, exhibits troopers, apparently Russian, fleeing close to an intersection within the northwest a part of the city. It will not be clear from the footage how a lot management Ukraine has established within the city.

Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from the Zaporizhzhia area, Ukraine, and Haley Willis from Seoul.

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