Bakhmut gains

Ukraine said Monday its summer offensive over the past week had recaptured more than 16 square kilometers (six square miles) from Russian forces in the south and east of the country.

“During the week... the liberated area (in the south) increased by 12.6 square kilometers,” Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar said in televised remarks.

She added that Kyiv's forces had wrested another four square kilometers near the embattled city of Bakhmut in the east.

Malyar also said that Russian forces had “conducted assaults” in the Kupyansk area of the eastern Kharkiv region, “aiming to push our units beyond the Oskil River.”

‘A very hard fight’

The U.S. has said Ukraine has a “very hard fight” ahead to recapture more territory occupied by Russia despite the fact it had “already taken back about 50 percent of what was initially seized.”

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Speaking to CNN on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added: “These are still relatively early days of the counteroffensive. It is tough.

“It will not play out over the next week or two. We’re still looking I think at several months.”

‘Two companies destroyed’

The Ukrainian military claimed Russian forces lost two companies of men, a main battle tank, seven anti-aircraft systems, 12 artillery systems and mortars, as well as a number of military trucks in fighting in the Tavria direction in just one day.

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Tsikhanouskaya met with the Kastus Kalinowski Regiment, a group of Belarusian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine.

“On the Tavria axis, the Defense Forces are systematically knocking the enemy out of their positions,” Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavsky, commander of the Tavria Operational-Strategic Group of Forces, said on Telegram.

A Russian company usually numbers around a hundred men but can range from 70-150.

Ukraine now claims Russia has lost a total of 241,960 troops since the beginning of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, a number backed up recently by UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace.

First cluster munitions photo

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The first photos of US-supplied cluster munitions in Ukraine have appeared on social media.

According to the Ukraine Weapons Tracker community, the pictures show “155mm cluster projectiles which were recently transferred by the US in Ukrainian service.”

‘A harsh response’

Russia said on Monday that drone attacks in central Moscow and annexed Crimea could warrant a harsh response after Ukraine claimed an attack on the capital.

“We regard what happened as yet another use of terrorist methods and intimidation of the civilian population by the military and political leadership of Ukraine,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to take tough retaliatory measures,” it added.

The ministry said the “West’s focus on further aggravating the situation” in Ukraine was behind Kyiv’s “brazen actions.”

Russian officials said earlier that Ukrainian drones hit two buildings in Moscow and an ammunition depot in Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

Andriy Yusov, the spokesperson for Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR), told Kyiv Post the strikes exposed Moscow’s weak air defenses, something Ukraine intends to take advantage of.

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“The strikes on the key facilities of Russia’s security sector located in Moscow testify to the fact that the Putin regime is unable to fully control the sky even for the protection of the most important facilities,” he said.

Referring to “cotton” – a Ukrainian wordplay referring to explosions – in Moscow, he added: “Obviously, this situation will continue and increase in scale.”

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