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“The Russian troops are suffering losses” during the fighting that broke out after Russia launched an invasion into Ukraine early Thursday, according to Lt. Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.
Ukraine’s military says it’s holding defensive positions, hours after Russia began attacking Ukraine, he said in the address posted to his military’s website.
But the Russian military is telling a different story, in a conflict where the two sides are promoting their own narratives about what is happening on the ground.
Ukrainian troops “are leaving their positions in large numbers, dropping their weapons,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that was reported by state media.
According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, “fierce fights are taking place in the direction of Kharkiv and in the Joint Forces Operation area, where the enemy suffered casualties in men and materiel.”
The ministry said that in the northern Chernihiv region near Belarus, “the enemy was stopped.”
It added, “Our Forces have taken full control of Mariupol and Shchastia. At least six planes, two helicopters and dozens of enemy armored vehicles have been destroyed.”
In Kharkiv, closer to the disputed territories of Luhansk and Donetsk in northeastern Ukraine, the situation “is difficult,” the ministry said, adding that fighting is ongoing.
Russian attacks began on a broad scale at 5 a.m. local time, said, Zaluzhnyi said.
Russian forces launched “an intensive shelling of our units” in the east, the general said. Missiles and bombs also hit airfields in Boryspil, Ozerne, Kulbakino, Chuhuiv, Kramatorsk, Chornobaivka, as well as military infrastructure, he added.
Artillery also hit areas along the border with Crimea, Zaluzhnyi said, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014