Ukraine says fighting ‘difficult’ in east as Russia massed large forces on that front

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Ukraine said on Monday that the battles on the eastern front were “difficult”, as Russia’s forces were massing large numbers of troops in that direction in an attempt to reclaim the initiative.

Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar said: “The situation in the east is difficult. The enemy has increased its forces and is conducting an active offensive in the Lyman and Kupiansk directions, trying to seize the initiative from us.” Initiative in war refers to the ability of a military force to dictate the terms and pace of the conflict, often by taking proactive, offensive actions.

The side that holds the initiative can force its adversary into a defensive posture, potentially exploiting their need to respond to maneuvers rather than implementing their own strategies. Ultimately, initiative is about controlling the battlefield tempo and space, forcing the enemy to operate on your terms.

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Malyar added that the Russians were intensifying their shelling attacks and that “fierce battles are ongoing.”

She said that the Russians were not giving up on their plans to reach the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“Currently, this is the main direction of attack for the enemy. Therefore, it has focused a significant number of its units in the east, in particular the airborne assault units,” Malyar said, stressing that Ukraine’s forces were standing firm in the eastern front and blocking the advance of an enemy with superior forces and means.

In the area of Lyman, Russian combat aircraft and artillery claimed to have destroyed over 100 Ukrainian troops in the over the past day, Defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said according to state news agency TASS.

The general claimed that over all in the Lyman direction, the Ukrainian army’s losses over the past 24 hours amounted to 105 personnel, two infantry fighting vehicles, two armored combat vehicles, two pickup trucks, two Gvozdika motorized artillery systems, a D-20 howitzer and a D-30 howitzer.

Konashenkov added that in the Donetsk area, Russian forces repelled four Ukrainian attacks over the past day. The spokesman claimed that the Russians cost the Ukrainian side heavy losses that amounted to over 340 personnel, two armored combat vehicles, five motor vehicles, a Polish-made Krab self-propelled artillery system, a D-20 howitzer and a Msta-B howitzer.

Additionally, pro-Kremlin military officer Colonel Vitaly Kiselyov claimed that Ukrainian troops sustained heavy casualties in their attempt to seize a Russian stronghold between the settlements of Nizhnyaya Duvanka and Svatovo in the east of Ukraine.

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