May 14 (Reuters) – Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday two of its military commanders had been killed in eastern Ukraine as Kiev’s forces renewed efforts to break through Russian defenses in an attempt to break through to the town of Pakmut.
At a daily briefing, the ministry said Vyacheslav Makarov, commander of the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade, and Yevgeny Provko, a deputy commander of a separate unit, were killed trying to fend off Ukrainian attacks.
It said Makarov had been leading troops from the front line and that Brovko “died heroically of multiple shrapnel wounds”. The Defense Ministry rarely announces the deaths of Army Chiefs in its daily briefing.
It said Ukrainian forces had carried out attacks in the north and south of Pakmutin in the past 24 hours, but they had not breached Russian defenses. “All attacks by units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been repelled,” it said.
Reuters could not independently verify Russia’s account.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malier confirmed on Sunday that Ukrainian forces were “continuing to advance in the Pakmut sector on the outskirts”.
“Our units captured more than ten enemy positions north and south of Pakmut and cleared a large forest near Ivanivsk. Enemy soldiers from different units were captured,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.
Neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces have been able to fully capture the city in months of half-baked fighting that has inflicted heavy losses on both sides.
Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had withdrawn north of Baghmut amid a surge of Ukrainian attacks, but Kiev rejected suggestions that a major, long-planned counteroffensive had officially begun.
Reporting by Reuters Editing by David Goodman
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