(Kyiv) Ukraine denied on Monday that Russian troops were advancing, as Moscow claims, near the town of Vougledar, a new hot spot on the front in eastern Ukraine where fighting has intensified lately .
“Our units continue to advance […] Units have been established in the east of Vougledar and the work continues in the surroundings, ”said in the morning the head of the Russian occupation in the Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, quoted by the Russian agencies.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian army responsible for this area, Yevguen Ierine, assured AFP that the Russian attacks in the area had failed.
According to him, the Ukrainian forces were able to repel the Russians using “firearms and artillery”.
“The enemy had no success and retreated. We have not lost our positions,” maintained Mr. Ierine.
For his part, Mr. Pushilin affirmed that the Ukrainian army had entrenched itself in an area which has “a large number of industrial sites and high buildings”, which facilitates defensive operations.
“We assume that the enemy will resist,” he continued.
For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense remained vague, saying that its troops “took more advantageous positions” on the outskirts of Vougledar by inflicting losses on Ukrainian forces.
Vougledar, a mining town which had 15,000 inhabitants before the Russian offensive, is located 150 kilometers south of Bakhmout, another hot spot on the eastern front that the Russian army has been trying to take for more than six months at the cost of heavy losses.
Denis Pushilin clarified on Monday that “fierce fighting” was underway near Bakhmout and that it was “too early” to talk about an encirclement of the city by Russian troops.
“Fighting is underway, we are holding the lines of defense by inflicting losses on them,” commented another Ukrainian military spokesman, Serguiï Tcherevaty.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Bakhmut, Vougledar and other areas of the Donetsk region were under “constant Russian attacks”.
The Kremlin has sworn to conquer the entire Donetsk region after claiming annexation in September along with three other Ukrainian regions: Luhansk in the east, Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south.
Prohibition for Ukrainian civil servants to go on vacation abroad
The Ukrainian government has banned its senior officials and all elected officials, including women, from going on vacation abroad during the time of the Russian invasion, amid recent scandals involving important leaders.
Adopted on Friday, a government resolution to this effect “has already entered into force,” said Ukrainian border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko on Monday. “They can now only leave as part of a mission.”
Just after the start of the Russian invasion launched in February 2022, Ukraine banned men of fighting age (18-60) from traveling abroad except in rare exceptions requiring public officials permission from their superiors.
With this new resolution, senior officials will only be able to go on vacation abroad if they are visiting their children, or in the event of medical treatment or upon the death of a loved one, detailed Mr. Demtchenko.
The ban also extends to women senior civil servants as well as deputies and local elected officials, according to this document published on the official government website.
Deputy Iryna Gerashchenko denounced on Facebook a “populist decision” having according to her “signs of discrimination against the thousands of Ukrainian women and their children”, while the country has 15,000 local elected women.
“The authorities first called on all those who can leave for the winter with their children and now it is a ban on going out,” she lamented. “In the conditions of war, it is important to preserve the psychological health of women and their children,” she argued.
The government’s resolution was passed after press reports that an assistant attorney general had recently gone on vacation to Marbella, a popular Spanish resort.
Oleksiy Symonenko was sacked from his post on January 25, as part of a series of dismissals initiated by President Volodymyr Zelensky following a corruption case involving army supplies.
A member of the presidential party, Mykola Tychchenko, was also expelled on January 26 from the parliamentary group of the presidential party after a trip to Thailand. Finally, an influential media on Friday accused former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of vacationing in a luxury villa in the United Arab Emirates.