Ukraine-Russia war – live: Putin’s troops ‘in bad order’ after being forced from Bakhmut

Russian forces have withdrawn from their positions on the southern flank of Bakhmut operations in bad order over the last four days, Britain’s defence ministry said today.

The withdrawal has seen Ukrainian forces regain at least a kilometer of territory, Britain said in a daily intelligence bulletin.

“The area has some tactical significance because it was a Russian bridgehead on the western side of the Donets-Donbas Canal, which marks the front line through parts of the sector,” the intelligence update said.

It comes as Russia’s defence ministry spokesperson, Igor Konashenkov, said Ukraine had launched an assault north of Bakhmut with more than 1,000 troops and up to 40 tanks, a scale that if confirmed would amount to the biggest Ukrainian offensive in some time.

Elsewhere, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Rome this morning to meet with Italian officials and Pope Francis, who has said the Vatican has launched a behind-the-scenes initiative to try to end the war.

“Today in Rome,” Mr Zelensky tweeted. “I’m meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni and the Pope Pontifex. An important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine!”

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