Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied on Tuesday that Ukraine has achieved any success in its three-month-old counteroffensive.
Kiev reported new minor gains in its grinding campaign to retake territory in the south-east.
“Ukraine is conducting a so-called counteroffensive. Of course, there are no results,’’ Putin said.
Putin said this at an economic forum in Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East, on Tuesday.
That assessment flies in the face of what Kiev and other analysts of the war have reported, namely that Ukrainian forces have made gains in the Zaporizhzhya region.
It included retaking the village of Robotyne and piercing Russia’s first defensive line.
Putin said that Russia would continue its combat operations in Ukraine as long as Kiev kept up its fighting.
Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun said late Monday that ground forces were advancing by 50 to 200 metres per day.
“Sometimes there is no movement at all because you need to get a foothold and protect the personnel,’’ he told Ukrainian television.
He said 255 square kilometres of Ukrainian land had been liberated since the start of the counteroffensive.
Andriy Kovalev, spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Tuesday that further progress south and south-east of Robotyne had been made.
The chief of Russia’s state nuclear corporation ROSATOM meanwhile said several drones attacked Enerhodar, a town in the Zaporizhzhya region that is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Two Ukrainian drones were intercepted on Monday and four others carried out their attacks but caused no damage, ROSATOM boss Alexei Likhachev said, according to the Interfax agency.
Ukraine has yet to comment on the Russian claim.
Russia has occupied parts of the Zaporizhzhya region and its nuclear power plant since the early days of its all-out invasion more than 18 months ago.
Likhachev portrayed the drone attacks as a response to Sunday’s elections in the part of Zaporizhzhya the Russian military controls.
International observers called the elections a sham and said they were neither fair nor free.
The results, in which the Kremlin party was presented as the overwhelming winner, were not recognised internationally.
Moscow currently controls around 100,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory, including the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.