Russia's war in Ukraine

Ukraine’s military says there has been very heavy fighting along the southern front, with Ukrainian missile and artillery units carrying out nearly 1,500 missions in the last day alone.

The fighting has also included 36 combat engagements and 578 shelling attacks over the past day, according to Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, a Ukrainian commander in the south. The commander did not specify where along the front lines the battles took place.

Tarnavskyi claims Russia has suffered hundreds of losses in the recent fighting, though CNN cannot independently verify claims about battlefield developments.

Ukraine has met strong Russian opposition in the opening phases of its counteroffensive.

“Russian occupation forces in southern Ukraine are putting up fierce resistance, sometimes pulling up reserves from the second line of defense,” the press center for Tarnavskyi’s forces wrote.

Ukrainian units are consolidating advances around the southern cities of Melitopol, Berdiansk and Mariupol, their three main targets in the southern offensive, military spokesperson Valerii Shershen said. But he estimated Ukraine’s gains in the region were limited to small distances of a kilometer or less.

“The enemy has built up engineering fortifications, which complicates our advance, and each meter is difficult to gain,” Shershen said.

In eastern Ukraine: Further north, Shershen said Ukrainian units are defending the frontline town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, which Russian forces have been trying to encircle for months.

The Ukrainian Military Media Center says Kyiv’s forces have had some limited success elsewhere in the Donetsk region and are not ceding ground. Ukrainian troops have made some progress around the embattled town of Vuhledar and the long-contested city of Bakhmut, the officials said.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces, was upbeat Friday about his troops’ progress outside Bakhmut. He said regular Russian forces, who have now replaced the Wagner private military group in the city, have not put up the same level of fighting.

What Russia is saying: For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday that Ukraine “continued to suffer significant losses during unsuccessful attempts” to advance in Donetsk and along the front lines in the south.

It said Moscow’s forces repelled five attacks along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia border in southeast Ukraine. The ministry claims Ukraine suffered heavy losses in the fighting, though CNN cannot independently verify assertions about battlefield developments.

Moscow has also claimed that Russian forces inflicted heavy losses elsewhere along the front line, including close to the city of Donetsk. Russian military bloggers reported a “tense” situation around Pervomaiske, a settlement just west of the city, which has been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed the ministry’s claims Friday, saying at a forum in St. Petersburg that Ukraine was bleeding equipment and had “no chance” against Russia. Putin claimed Ukraine will soon be totally reliant on hardware supplied by Western countries, saying his troops have destroyed dozens of Ukraine’s tanks and even more armored vehicles.

CNN’s Lindsay Isaac contributed to this report.