Moscow/Lviv, Mar 25 (EFE).- Ukraine claimed Friday it is achieving small victories and that the front lines are “practically frozen,” while Russian forces said the first phase of the Kremlin’s so-called “special military operation” in that neighboring country has been completed.
Those conflicting reports came on a day when Turkey’s president said the two warring sides were making significant progress in peace talks and the United Kingdom reported military advances by Ukrainian forces.
“Ukrainian counter-attacks, and Russian Forces falling back on overextended supply lines, has allowed Ukraine to re-occupy town and defensive positions up to 35 kilometers (21 miles) east of Kyiv,” the British defense ministry reported.
Meanwhile, the advance of Russian forces towards the Black Sea port city of Odesa has stalled as troops try to bypass Mykolaiv, the ministry said.
FIRST PHASE COMPLETED
Russian forces reported that the first phase of their military operation has concluded.
“The main missions of the first phase of the operation have been completed,” Sergey Rudskoy, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate, said.
Rudskoy said Russian armed forces have blocked Kyiv and Chernobyl in northern Ukraine, Kharkiv in the east, Sumy in the northeast and Mykolaiv in the south.
Ukrainian authorities, however, deny Russia has managed to block Kyiv and Chernobyl.
Moscow on Friday said 1,351 of its soldiers have died and 3,825 have been injured since the start of the war.
That death toll is almost three times higher than the one offered on March 2 by the Russian Defense Ministry, which said then that 498 soldiers had been killed in combat.
Ukraine claims over 16,100 Russian soldiers have died.
Meanwhile, some 13 million people in Ukraine are trapped in conflict zones and are unable to escape due to the destruction of roads, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Friday.
The Russian war on Ukraine has displaced 6.5 million Ukrainians and forced 3.7 million to leave the country, according to the UN.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, said Friday that Russia and Ukraine have reached an understanding on four of six contentious points in their negotiations.
They include a commitment by Ukraine not to seek NATO membership and to accept Russian as the nation’s co-official language, as well as concessions in the areas of demilitarization and “collective security.”
He added, however, that Ukraine is not prepared to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 or recognize Donetsk and Luhansk and independent states.
Russia, however, said Kyiv is to blame for the negotiations dragging on and that there was no progress on the key issues.
“They (Ukraine) are not in a hurry, they believe that time is in their favor,” Russia’s chief negotiator in the talks, Vladimir Medinsky, said.