Soldier - Ukraine War
Tetyana Mudrenko, a 56-year-old nurse was hanged on the street by the occupiers for saying "Skadovsk is Ukraine" in occupied Skadovsk. Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

The UK's Ministry of Defence said that shovels are likely being used by Russian reservists for "hand-to-hand" combat in Ukraine as they are running out of ammunition.

The ministry said that in late February, Russian reservists were described being ordered to assault a Ukrainian position "armed with only 'firearms and shovels.'"

A shovel known as MPL-50 was mentioned that was designed in 1869. It had changed little, said the ministry.

The ministry shared that the "lethality of the standard-issue MPL-50 entrenching tool is particularly mythologized in Russia."

It said that the continued use of the shovel "as a weapon highlights the brutal and low-tech fighting" which has come to characterize much of the war that started in February 2022.

The ministry noted that one of the reservists described being "neither physically nor psychologically" prepared for the action.

It also shared that going by recent evidence, there are suggestions of a rise in increase in "close combat in Ukraine."

The ministry feels that this is probably a result of the "Russian command continuing to insist on offensive action largely consisting of dismounted infantry, with less support from artillery fire because Russia is short of munitions."

According to BBC, it was unable to independently verify these reports, and the ministry did not give information on where such battles were taking place.

As for Russian troops, they appear to have secured a sufficient positional advantage in Bakhmut, said the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The city where around 4,000 civilians remain, has seen months of fighting, as Russia tries to take control.

Thousands of Russian soldiers have died trying to take the city, which had a population of around 75,000 before the war.

In recent months, taking the city would be a rare battlefield success for Russia. But there have been questions about the city's strategic value.

Russia's positional advantage could allow a "turning movement" in Bakhmut, said the ISW.

It said that the purpose of a turning movement is to force the enemy to give up its defensive position. It is not the same as the aim of an encirclement, which is to trap and destroy enemy troops.

The ISW said that the Russians might have intended to encircle Ukrainian forces in the city, but the Ukrainian command has signaled that it "will likely withdraw rather than risk an encirclement."

But the Ukrainian military said on Sunday that it had no intention of withdrawing from the city.

The Armed Forces General Staff said in a statement that Russian soldiers were still trying to surround the city. But it said that more than 100 attacks had been repelled in the eastern Donbas region in the last few hours.

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