Russia stepping up offensive in Luhansk

Russia's military is stepping up its offensive in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, forcing Ukrainians to fight tough battles. But Russian forces are on the defensive in Kherson and other southern regions.

A Ukrainian defense ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday that the harshest fighting is in the Ukrainian stronghold of Severodonetsk in the east. The official said enemy forces are sparing no equipment or personnel.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai told local media that the situation in Severodonetsk is severe. He said special forces recaptured about half of the city two days ago, but air raids and shelling have intensified, forcing Ukrainians out to the suburbs.

Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces aim to seize Severodonetsk by Friday.

Meanwhile in the south, the Russian military has been on the defensive as it has been concentrating its resources in the east.

On Wednesday, a Ukrainian news agency quoted a former leader of pro-Russian separatist forces as saying that the Russians have stepped back several kilometers in the regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv.

Britain's defense ministry said in its intelligence update on Wednesday that Russia is concentrating its offensive in the east while remaining on the defensive on its flanks.

It also said Ukrainian forces recently began counter-attacking in Kherson and have regained a foothold on the eastern bank of a key river.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told an online conference of overseas investors on Wednesday that his people are defending their land while enduring fierce attacks. He said victory for Ukraine in the war will be one of the greatest military successes in Europe.