By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Jan 23 (EFE).- Ukraine has denied Russia’s claims of advances in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, saying all the attempts by the invading country to attack there have been repelled so far.
Months of relative quiet on this particular stretch of the frontline to the south of the Ukrainian-controlled regional capital Zaporizhzhia appear to have ended as Russia renewed its attacks on Ukrainian positions near the frontline towns of Orichiv and Kamianske in the last few days.
However, the Russian attacks do not yet represent a large offensive, Ukrainian officials claim.
“At this stage, these Russian actions are aimed at tying up our forces in the Zaporizhzhia direction, so that we cannot transfer troops to Donetsk or Luhansk regions,” Yevhen Yerin, the spokesman for the Tavria Group of Forces of the Ukrainian Army, said on Monday.
He said that Russians were attacking in small groups, consisting of 8-10 soldiers, and there were no signs so far of a major offensive in this direction yet warned such possibility could not be discarded as the situation remained “stable” but “complicated” for the Ukrainian troops.
Yerin revealed that Russians did make some “limited” and “insignificant gains” in the last few days but said all the positions were eventually retaken by Ukrainian troops.
According to him, Russian troops and equipment constantly arrive from Crimea.
Russian troops are strengthening their defensive lines while trying to avoid concentrating their ammunition and maneuver to escape Ukrainian high-precision weapons.
The latest report by the General Staff of the Ukrainian army underlined on Monday that Russian troops continued attacking in the area but with no success and were suffering large losses.
The spokeswoman of the Southern Group of Forces Nataliia Gumeniuk said “the frontline in the area remains dynamic and changing all the time.”
She said however that these changes “were not critical.”
Currently, about 60% of the Zaporizhzhia region is occupied by Russia.
Moscow’s troops managed to advance quickly in the area at the very beginning of the invasion, capturing the important logistical hub of Melitopol and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Energodar.
After its troops were stopped some 45 kilometers (roughly 28 miles) from the regional capital, the frontline remained relatively stable with major combat happening elsewhere. Despite regular artillery duels, it has been in Vasylivka, to the south of Kamianske, where the only constant crossing for civilians has been operating since spring.EFE ra/jt/aef