May 14 (Reuters) – Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday two of its military commanders had been killed in eastern Ukraine, as Kiev’s forces renewed efforts to breach Russian defenses in the town of Bagmud.
At the daily briefing, Vyacheslav Makarov, commander of the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade, and Yevgeny Provko, deputy commander of the separate division, said they were trying to block Ukrainian attacks.
It said Makarov had been leading troops from the front line and that Brovko had “died heroically of multiple shrapnel wounds”. The defense ministry rarely announces the deaths of army chiefs in its daily briefing.
It said Ukrainian forces had launched attacks north and south of Baghmut in the past 24 hours, but they had not breached Russian defenses. “All attacks by units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been repelled,” it said.
Reuters could not independently verify Russia’s account.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malier confirmed on Sunday that Ukrainian forces were “continuing to advance in the Pakmut sector on the outskirts”.
“Our units captured more than ten enemy positions north and south of Pakmut and cleared a large forest near Ivanivsk. Enemy soldiers from different units were captured,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.
Neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces have been able to take full control of the city, despite months of quasi-battles in which both sides suffered heavy losses.
Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had withdrawn north of Baghmut amid a surge of Ukrainian attacks, but Kiev rejected suggestions that a major, long-planned counteroffensive had officially begun.
Reporting by Reuters Editing by David Goodman
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