Ukrainian servicemen ride atop of a tank on a road to the frontline town of Bakhmut Ukrainian servicemen ride atop of a tank on a road to the frontline town of Bakhmut 

Ukraine claims limited victory around Bakhmut

Ukraine says it has recaptured ground in Bakhmut, in a rare advance after months of grinding Russian gains in the eastern city. But Moscow has denied the claims while the death toll is mounting in one of the longest and bloodiest since Russia's invasion began more than 14 long months ago.

By Stefan J. Bos

Footage shared by Ukraine's military showed Ukrainian soldiers narrowly escaping Russian grenades as they stormed Russian trenches near Bakhmut.

As the troops rush to the trenches, two grenades explode near them in this terrifying armed confrontation.

Despite the dangers, Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar says Ukrainian forces have advanced two kilometers or (1.2 miles) in a week.

The claims would signal a momentum shift in Bakhmut - but more widely, there was no clear evidence of the much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Moscow has denied reports of Ukrainian gains after even the leader of Russia's Wagner group of mercenaries, Yevgeny Prygozhin, reported a breakthrough by Ukraine's military.

Though experts question its tactical value, the intense battle for Bakhmut has become symbolically important.

Listen to the report:

Covering the conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for reporters: A young journalist working for the French news agency AFP Arman Soldin died near Bakhmut on Monday when a Grad missile landed close to where he was lying.

The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders says at least 11 media workers, including journalists, fixers, and drivers, have been killed covering the war in Ukraine.

Russia's defense ministry also confirmed Friday that Ukrainian forces carried out what it called "offensive operations" near Bakhmut around the settlement of Soledar.

Moscow claimed more than a thousand troops and up to 40 tanks were used in the alleged attack but added that the forces were "repulsed." Britain pledged to deliver long-range missiles, but they will arrive too late for many Ukrainian fighters.

Yet, in remarkable footage from the Bakhmut area, a Russian soldier identified as Ruslan Nikolaievich tells a Ukrainian drone flying over the battlefield he wants to surrender.

The drone drops a note written by Ukrainians telling him to follow the aircraft.

He then scrambles over the bodies of fallen comrades and tries to make it out of the trench before coming under fire, apparently by his men.

The soldier eventually makes it to the nearby Ukrainian trench, removes his helmet and battle gear, and surrenders to Ukrainians.

With thousands of soldiers killed in warfare resembling World War One, it was seen as a small sign of hope.

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12 May 2023, 15:33