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MOSCOW: Kyiv’s attempts to penetrate Russian defences on frontlines in the east and south of the country have “failed”, Moscow said on Tuesday, four months into a closely-watched Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Kyiv launched the long-awaited counteroffensive in June but has acknowledged slow progress as its forces crash into sophisticated and kilometres-deep Russian defensive positions.

“The enemy’s attempts to break through our defences in the areas of Verbovoye and Rabotino on the Zaporizhzhia front have failed,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told senior Russian military officials.

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He was using Russian place names to refer to two villages along the frontline in the south where Ukrainian forces claim to have broken through the toughest points of Russian defences and recaptured several villages.

Shoigu also said the Russian army had “repelled all attacks in the Soledar-Bakhmout direction” on the eastern front in the war-battered Donetsk region.

The Kremlin claimed to have annexed both the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions last year – alongside two other territories in Ukraine – despite ongoing fighting.

“Our troops have significantly weakened the enemy’s combat potential and inflicted serious damage,” Shoigu said, praising Russian soldiers for fighting “boldly and decisively” and demonstrating “true heroism”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022 and they swept quickly through large swathes of the south and east of the country but were beaten back from the north.

Shoigu also reiterated that Moscow did not plan to conduct a new military mobilisation after Russia’s shock plan to call up men sparked a major exodus from the country last year.

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