In the past several days, Ukrainian forces have recaptured about 20 square kilometers in the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on May 16.
Meanwhile, in Bakhmut itself, Russian troops have "somewhat" advanced, moving units of "professional paratroopers" into the city, the official reported on Telegram.
"Heavy battles are going on with different results," she added.
Two days before, Maliar said Ukrainian soldiers had retaken more than 10 Russian-held positions north and south of the key eastern city.
On May 15, Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military's Eastern Operational Command, said that Ukraine's Armed Forces had advanced on the flanks around Bakhmut from 350 meters to 2 kilometers "in some places" over the previous two days.
Russia's recent failures around Bakhmut are likely connected with the escalating feud between the Russian defense ministry and Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, which has led the assault on Bakhmut for months.
While Wagner leads the attacks inside the city, the flanks where Ukrainian forces have advanced are manned by regular army units.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed a renewed wave of Ukrainian counterattacks on May 14 and admitted that two colonels – including a brigade commander – were recently killed in the Battle of Bakhmut.