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Ukraine war

Ukraine says fighting rages near Chasiv Yar, but denies Russia reached suburbs

Ukraine says fighting rages near Chasiv Yar, but denies Russia reached suburbs
Local residents walk around residential buildings in Chasiv Yar, near the frontline in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, 09 November 2023, amid the Russian invasion. Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory in February 2022, starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. EPA-EFE/OLEG PETRASYUK

KYIV, April 5 (Reuters) - The Ukrainian military said on Friday the battlefield situation was tense near the eastern town of Chasiv Yar, but denied Russian reports that Moscow's troops had reached its suburbs.

Russian forces are inching forward in the east after capturing Ukraine’s long-time eastern bastion of Avdiivka in February. Ukraine is trying to dig in, but it faces shortages of artillery rounds with U.S. aid stuck in Congress for months.

A rapid capture of Chasiv Yar, a town with a pre-war population of 12,200 situated west of the ruined, Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut, would mark a grim setback for Kyiv and indicate mounting Russian battlefield momentum.

Russia’s RIA news agency cited an official as saying Russian troops had entered the suburbs of the town, which Moscow sees as an important staging point for Kyiv’s troops that is also heavily fortified.

Andriy Zadubinnyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command said the report was untrue.

“The situation there is very difficult, the fighting continues, but they (Russian troops) are not there,” he said by telephone. “Don’t believe the Russian reports.”

He later told Reuters he had meant to describe the situation as “tense” and not “very difficult”.

On Thursday, Serhii Chaus, the mayor, described the situation in Chasiv Yar as the most difficult since Russia began its full-scale invasion more than two years ago, in comments broadcast by the Ukrainian Espreso TV channel.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Russia may plan to stage a new offensive against Ukraine in late May or summer, but that Kyiv has a battlefield plan of its own.

Russia has stepped up its long-range air strikes on energy infrastructure in recent weeks, causing large-scale outages in parts of the country.

After taking the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka in February, Russian forces have tried to advance slowly, taking advantage of delays in Western military aid for Ukraine.

(Reporting by Reuters and Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Anastasiia Malenko; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Philippa Fletcher)

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