Russian forces reported in retreat near Bakhmut

STORY: The Ukrainian military on Thursday released footage purporting to show its forces attacking and destroying Russian units near the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Reuters has been unable to confirm the location or the date of the video, which was posted to social media by Ukraine's top commander.

Both Kyiv and a Russian mercenary group reported further Russian retreats around the city.

Kyiv says it has launched local advances as a prelude to an upcoming big counteroffensive that it hopes will turn the tide against Russia's 15-month-old invasion.

Ukraine's military said troops had advanced in places by more than a mile… and Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said that day-long Russian attacks in the city had been repelled.

However, the commander of the Wagner paramilitary group leading the Russian assault on Bakhmut claimed his forces were still advancing on Thursday.

But Yevgeny Prighozin accused commanders of Russia's regular forces of abandoning ground north and south of the city, raising the risk of troops inside being encircled.

Near the front line, Ukrainian troops said Russia was bombarding access roads to slow the advances, which has shifted the momentum after months of slow Russian gains.

Andriy Chornyi commands an air defense division near the front line.

"The shelling is ongoing, you can see for yourself that it seems to have calmed down a bit, but they are constantly working like this, constantly looking for something somewhere, they are covering us with fire. Well, they work, it's obvious they're digging in, and that they want to show how strong they are."

The Russian defense ministry has acknowledged some withdrawals from positions near Bakhmut over the past week but denied Prigozhin's assertions that flanks are crumbling.