Ukraine has made "some notable progress" in its counteroffensive against Russian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, the US government has said.
- Ukrainian troops have made territorial gains in the southern front
- They face more obstacles as they try to push past Russia's second line of defences
- A child was killed and at least nine people were wounded in Russian-controlled Donetsk
On Friday, Ukraine Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv's troops had successfully breached the first line of Russian defences in Ukraine's south-east.
"There is an offensive in several directions and in certain areas. And in some places, in certain areas, this first line was broken through," she said.
"In some areas, it was not broken through, the situation is different there."
Ms Maliar said that Kyiv's troops — who have been battling to advance through heavily-mined areas for almost three months — had now run into heavily fortified Russian positions.
"Where we have already moved to the next line … the enemy is much more fortified there and, in addition to the mining, we also see concrete fortifications, for example, under the main commanding heights," she said.
"Our armed forces have to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to move forward."
The US National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, said Ukraine "have achieved some success against that second line of Russian defences" during the past 72 hours.
He said it was up to Ukraine on how to capitalise on that success.
"That is not to say … that they aren't mindful that they've still got some tough fighting ahead of them as they try to push further south," Mr Kirby said.
Ukraine's counteroffensive has not yet recaptured any major settlements, though it has retaken more than a dozen small villages.
Last week, it captured the village of Robotyne, beyond which lies Russian-occupied high ground, huge anti-tank ditches, and lines of concrete fortifications.
Russia has described the latest Ukrainian army effort as a failure.
Kyiv said it has been advancing slowly on purpose to minimise losses, and that its task is more difficult because it lacks the air power that its Western allies take for granted.
Ukraine's senior presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said that, for now, any negotiations with Russia would amount to a "capitulation" for both Ukraine and the democracies that support it.
He said Ukraine's Western allies — who have poured in billions of dollars of weaponry to help the counteroffensive — understood there could be no kind of "compromise" with Moscow in the war.
"At the moment, the partners understand that this war will no longer end in a compromise solution," Mr Podolyak said.
"That is, either we destroy Russia's capabilities by military means, and to do this we need the appropriate tools, or this war with such level of aggression will continue for some time."
Child killed in Donetsk
A six-year-old child was killed and at least nine people were wounded in Russian-controlled Donetsk as shelling of the city in eastern Ukraine also intensified on Friday.
Russian-installed Donetsk Mayor Alexei Kulemzin said in a statement posted on Telegram that a shopping centre, a dental clinic and residential areas were hit in multiple districts of the city.
Mr Kulemzin blamed Ukraine for the shelling and accused the country of firing 25 rockets on the day when children across Russia begin their new school year.
Reuters could not verify details of the accounts.
As it presses on with its counteroffensive, Ukraine has made a crackdown on corruption a priority.
On Friday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with a Ukrainian delegation of the heads of anti-corruption institutions.
"Mr Sullivan underscored the vital importance to any democratic society of independent, impartial law enforcement and judicial institutions capable of investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating corruption cases no matter where they lead," the White House said in a statement.
"Mr Sullivan also reiterated steadfast US support for anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine and for Ukraine's brave defence of its democracy against Russian aggression."