According to military reports, Ukrainian forces are making progress in the south-eastern cities of Melitopol and Berdiansk.
Early on Wednesday, Andriy Kovalev, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff, spoke of the “partial success” in the Zaporizhzhia area.
In a message on the Telegram channel of the Ukraine Military Media Center, Mr. Kovalev was reported as saying, “They are gaining ground,” and adding that the gains were close to, among other settlements, Mala Tokmachka and Robotyne.
According to him, “especially heavy fighting” is going on near Lyman in the Donetsk region as Ukraine continues to halt the advance of Russian troops in the country’s east.
However, overall, the counteroffensive from Kiev has been sluggish thus far as Ukrainian troops attempt to pass through Russian defense lines.
The Ministry of Defence in London emphasized that Russian military leaders were preparing for the prospect of a move by Kiev to retake territory in Crimea that Moscow annexed in 2014.
In its latest intelligence update, the MoD said: “Intense fighting continues in sectors of southern Ukraine. However, over recent weeks, Russia has continued to expend significant effort building defensive lines deep in rear areas, especially on the approaches to occupied Crimea.
“This includes an extensive zone of defences of 9 km in length, 3.5 km north of the town Armyansk, on the narrow bridge of land connecting Crimea to the Kherson region.”
The briefing added: “These elaborate defences highlight the Russian command’s assessment that Ukrainian forces are capable of directly assaulting Crimea.
Russia continues to see maintaining control of the peninsula as a top political priority.”
In the past two weeks, eight villages in the south have reportedly been retaken by Ukraine. The military of Ukraine has made its smallest but most significant military gains since November as it advances into heavily mined and fortified Russian-held territory.
The forces of Kyiv were continuing their offensive assaults towards Berdiansk on the Sea of Azov and Melitopol, a Russian bastion located deep within seized territory.
Ukraine has been preparing for the counteroffensive, which is viewed as a pivotal point in Russia’s war, for months, but it has enforced a communications ban, and there is little independent reporting.
According to military analysts, it is too soon to make judgments on the effectiveness of the two weeks of operations.
They claim that while Kyiv has not yet committed the majority of its forces—some of which were trained and outfitted by the West—the advanced positions of Ukraine are still some way from Russia’s main defense line.
Both Russia and Ukraine claim to have significantly damaged the other in the most recent conflicts.
Hanna Maliar, the deputy minister of defense for Ukraine, reported fierce fighting in the east, particularly close to the town of Lyman, which Kyiv retook from Russian forces in October.
“In the east, the defenders continue to hold back a large-scale assault by Russian forces in the Lyman and Bakhmut directions,” she said.
She continued by saying that Moscow continued to aim for the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which together make up the industrial Donbas region, and that the east remained the major target of its offensive efforts.
In what it described as an attempted Ukrainian strike, Russia said that on Wednesday its air defenses shot down three drones in the Moscow area.
It was impossible to independently verify this.