Russia beefs up forces near Bakhmut, switches from defensive posture – Ukraine commander

(Reuters) – Russia has significantly bulked up its forces around the devastated city of Bakhmut in the east and has switched its troops from a defensive posture to taking “active actions”, a Ukrainian military commander said on Monday.

Russia captured Bakhmut, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the 20-month war, in May. Ukraine has been on the counteroffensive since June to try to retake occupied land in the south and east, including the town.

“In the Bakhmut area, the enemy has significantly strengthened its grouping and switched from defence to active actions,” General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the ground forces, wrote on Telegram messenger.

He described the situation in the east as difficult with Russian forces particularly active near the northeastern Ukrainian-held town of Kupiansk, where he said Moscow’s troops were trying to advance simultaneously in several directions.

Russian troops have suffered heavy losses, he said.

Reuters could not independently verify that assertion or the battlefield account.

In its daily report on the fighting, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces continued in their attempts to regain control over Andriivka to the south of Bakhmut, which Kyiv’s forces said they had retaken in September.

It said that Ukraine’s troops continued to conduct their own assault operations south of Bakhmut and were inflicting losses in manpower and equipment.

Russia has also been pushing in recent weeks to encircle and capture the eastern town of Avdiivka.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; editing by Tom Balmforth and Ed Osmond)