Ukrainian soldiers next to a destroyed Russian tank on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 8. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The Ukrainian military says that Russia is holding back some of its forces within its borders to prevent a Ukrainian counterattack that has made some headway east of Kharkiv.
In its latest operational update, the armed forces’ general staff says that “in order to prevent the advance of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the enemy has concentrated up to nineteen battalion tactical groups in the Belgorod region” of Russia.
The Russians are holding back units as Ukrainian units get closer to the Russian border, analysts say.
Inside Ukraine, the general staff says the most intense activity is in Donetsk region, where Russian forces are trying to advance towards the town of Lyman, a major transport hub.
In other parts of the region, it says, “the enemy has increased its firepower and is trying to break through the defenses of our troops.”
Even so, it says, Russian forces remain “focused on the regrouping of units, replenishment of ammunition, fuel, [and] maintenance of previously occupied positions.”
The general staff says it expects the Russians to resume an offensive towards the village of Sulyhivka as they try to make progress from the Izium area. Over the past month, the Russians have made modest gains in the area but have taken no settlement of any consequence.
Luhansk: On the Luhansk front, the increase in Russian shelling has caused more civilian casualties and hampered rescue operations.
Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said rescuers had lost contact with 11 people hiding in a basement in Shypilovo. He said it was impossible to completely dismantle the wreckage of damaged buildings in Bilohorivka — where a school sheltering civilians was hit at the weekend — or Shypilovo.
“With the support of aircraft and artillery, the enemy focused its efforts on trying to take control of Rubizhne and prepare for the continuation of offensive operations in the direction of Lysychansk. The enemy increased firepower, trying to break through the defenses of our troops,” he said.
Russian forces have made only minor territorial gains in Luhansk but now have control of the ruined town of Popasna.
Southern Ukraine: The general staff alleged that in occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia region in the south, the Russians are seizing the personal documents of civilians and will only return them if they attend ceremonial events to mark Victory Day. CNN is unable to verify the claim.
After a weekend of dueling claims about combat over Snake Island in the Black Sea, the Odesa military administration says: “There are [Russian] Black Sea Fleet ships and submarines with cruise missiles on board constantly maneuvering and regrouping.”
“The number of boats has increased. So far, we know of six ships and two submarines,” it said.
The Odesa military administration repeated the list of Russian units it says it destroyed over the weekend: a small landing craft, two patrol boats, and a vessel carrying anti-aircraft defenses to Snake Island, as well as a helicopter.