Ukraine forces ‘hold out’ as Putin boasts of his ‘heroic army’

Ukraine was forced to go “on the defensive” on Sunday to fend off a fierce cycle of attacks as Vladimir Putin boasted that Kyiv’s counter-offensive has failed.

He said Russian soldiers had “heroically” stopped Ukraine’s counter-offensive, sucking in its reserves and capturing key locations.

“All attempts by the enemy to break through our defences have been unsuccessful during the entire offensive,” said Putin.

Ukrainian commanders have admitted that their counter-offensive has progressed slowly but they have still estimated that they have recaptured around 65 square miles of land in two months. 

Estonia’s military intelligence also said that morale in Russia’s army is close to breaking.

Analysts have said since a rebellion by his Wagner mercenaries in June, Putin has tried to project an aura of control© Provided by The Telegraph

In his interview with Russian state TV, though, Putin ignored these estimated gains.

“Our troops are behaving heroically,” he said. “In some areas they even go on the offensive, taking the most advantageous positions in high-rise buildings and so on.”

Analysts said that since a rebellion by his Wagner mercenaries in June, Putin has tried to project an aura of control but despite the bluster, his paranoia has grown and he is reliant on a small cortege of loyal advisers for briefings that don’t challenge his view of the war.

“Putin’s system continues to operate on wishful thinking in terms of reports that go to the offices of Putin,” said Alex Kokcharev, a Russia analyst at S&P Market Intelligence.

The tough fighting was also highlighted by Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister. She said Ukrainian forces around the city of Kupiansk in the northern sector were on the defensive against Russian forces.

Russian rockets are launched against Ukraine from Russia’s Belgorod region – AP Photo/Vadim Belikov© Provided by The Telegraph

“Fierce battles are going on, and positions of the sides change dramatically several times a day,” she said. “There is a daily advance on the southern flank around Bakhmut.

Fighting has also been reported in occupied Crimea where Russian forces said that seven arial and two underwater drones had attacked the port of Sevastopol, the main base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

In Belarus, hundreds of rebellious Wagner mercenaries have now arrived as part of a peace deal that ended their mutiny. Poland’s intelligence services have said that they are monitoring them.%n

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