Moscow rarely reports casualties in the ranks of its troops. But on Tuesday, the Russian military acknowledged the deaths of 71 of its soldiers in operations aimed at repelling Ukrainian attacks on the entire front over the past three days. Some 210 soldiers were also wounded, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement. He also reported 15 tanks and nine armored vehicles damaged, as well as two cars and nine artillery pieces.
According to him, Ukraine launched "a large amount of equipment and forces" on different parts of the front from Sunday and suffered losses in these attacks. "The attempted attacks were foiled (...) The enemy did not achieve its objectives, it suffered significant losses," he added.
Russia had already claimed on Monday to have countered large-scale Ukrainian attacks, implying that it could be the major counter-offensive prepared by Kiev for months. Ukraine, for its part, has played down the fighting, but on Monday claimed territorial gains near the devastated city of Bakhmut, the epicenter of the fighting.
Kiev and Moscow accuse each other of the destruction of a dam
Shoigu also blamed Ukrainian forces for the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in southern Ukraine, a disaster that caused flooding of surrounding areas.
According to the Russian minister, this "sabotage" aims to "prevent the offensive actions of the Russian army on this part of the front", while Kiev would be transferring troops from this sector to strengthen its attack potential elsewhere.
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Ukraine, for its part, accused Moscow of being responsible for the destruction of the dam, which is in Russian-occupied territory, on the border between the positions of the two sides.