Ukrainian forces have come under an intense Russian attack over the past 24 hours, with continuous assaults along the front line, the nation’s General Staff said in a statement on Sunday.
Fierce combat is underway in the eastern city of Avdiivka where Moscow is trying to encircle Volodymyr Zelensky‘s troops.
Ukrainian forces have also retreated to defensive positions in Bakhmut, Lyman, Kupiansk and Zaporizhzhia as fighters brave harsh winter colds.
One civilian was killed and two injured in a Russian artillery strike in the frontline town of Toretsk, less than 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) from Bakhmut, said Donetsk regional governor Vadym Filashkin.
Vladimir Putin‘s forces shelled the northern Sumy region in 16 separate attacks on Saturday, firing on the border communities of Yunakivka, Bilopillia, Krasnopillia, Velyka Pysarivka and Esman.
General Serhii Naiev, commander of the Ukrainian Joint Forces, also said Kyiv’s troops had pushed back Russian sabotage and reconnaissance units attempting to cross the border in the Sumy region.
At 6.20pm local time on Saturday, Ukrainian soldiers opened fire on an armed Russian group of 10 people near the town Hlukhiv, along the border with Russia.
The Russian group then split in two and attempted to bypass the Ukrainians, Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev, responsible for the defense of Ukraine’s northern border, said.
Ukraine’s counter-sabotage team then fired at the enemy and pushed them back from the border after an hour-and-a-half battle.
With Ukraine‘s soldiers concentrated in the eastern regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv, the reported incursion suggests that Moscow could be probing vulnerabilities on a new front to further stretch Ukrainian resources.