President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Ukrainian troops on the front lines in Bakhmut comes us Russian forces intensify their efforts to break Ukrainian resistance in several parts of Donetsk region.
With the conflict now exactly 300 days old, the Russians have been pushing some of their newly mobilized troops into fierce battles in both Luhansk and Donetsk, but the Ukrainian military consistently reports that Russian assaults have been rebuffed.
On Tuesday, the military's General Staff said: "The enemy continues to focus its efforts on conducting offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions," both in Donetsk. The Russians were trying to recover ground lost in September along the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk, it said. They were also intensifying assaults immediately to the west of the city of Donetsk, the General Staff said.
Much of the Russian fire comes from multiple rocket launchers. The Ukrainian General Staff said the Russians had carried out more than 80 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) attacks on Monday alone. Some of the most intense fighting has been in and around the ruined town of Mariinka, which the Russians are trying to secure to give them a foothold for further offensive action. The General Staff said that on Tuesday, "the enemy continues to conduct offensive actions, fired from tanks and all types of artillery at the positions of our troops in the areas of 24 settlements."
Ukraine said its air defenses had brought down two Mi-8 helicopters.
Neither side has made decisive gains in the east since the Ukrainians' lightning offensive in September, partly because of wet weather, fog and mud but also because much of the front lines is heavily mined. Russian forces are on the eastern fringes of Bakhmut, according to geolocated video, but one Russian military blogger said Monday that Russian units of the Wagner group had lost some ground south of the city. It is difficult to confirm territorial changes around Bakhmut.
Further north, on the border of Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the Ukrainian military says it has beaten back "small counterattacks" by Russian forces. Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk region military administration, said the Russians continued to shell recently liberated areas.
"Now that it's getting colder and the ground is getting firmer, most probably the hostilities may become more active in the near future, as it will be easier for the equipment to move. Anyway, we do expect that some changes may come on this direction.