Ukrainian forces are advancing in southern sectors of their counter-offensive against Russian occupation troops, Ukrainian military officials said on Friday.
The latest report on the counter-offensive, as well as an account of "desperate resistance" by Russian troops in the east, was issued as President Volodymyr Zelensky said movement in the counter-offensive was "the most important thing".
"Every soldier, every new step we take, every metre of Ukrainian land freed from the enemy is of utmost importance," Zelensky said in his nightly video message.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield situation. Russia has not officially acknowledged Ukrainian advances in the early stages of a counteroffensive, and said it had inflicted heavy losses on Kyiv's forces in the previous 24 hours.
Where is Ukraine concentrating their efforts?
Deputy Ukrainian Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app that troops were "engaged in active moves to advance in several directions at once.
"Practically in all sectors where our units are attacking in the south, they have registered tactical successes," Maliar said. "They are gradually moving forward. At the moment, the advance is up to 2 km (1.3 miles) in each direction."
In Ukraine's east, Maliar said Russia forces were trying to dislodge Ukrainian forces from established positions.
Ukrainian forces around the devastated city of Bakhmut, captured by Russia last month, were trying to push Russian forces out from the outskirts of the town.
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who is in charge of Ukrainian ground forces, had earlier described the situation in the east as tense, with Russia bringing its best divisions into the Bakhmut sector with backup from artillery and aircraft.
"We continue to conduct offensive actions in separate directions, occupying dominant heights, and strips of forest with the aim of forcing the enemy gradually out of the outskirts of Bakhmut. Realizing this, the enemy units put up desperate resistance," Syrskyi said on Telegram.
Bakhmut has seen some of the fiercest fighting since Russia's February 2022 invasion. The Ukrainian military said last week it had begun pushing back Russian forces near Bakhmut.
Kyiv said on Thursday it had regained control of about 100 square km (38 square miles) of territory in just over a week of its counteroffensive.
Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of Ukrainian troops in the southern Tavriia sector, said there had been 36 combat engagements and 578 attacks in the past 24 hours in the sector.
"The enemy's losses in killed and wounded amounted to more than four companies," he wrote on Telegram. A company typically consists of 100–250 soldiers.