Ukraine Reports Recapture of Seven Villages in Initial Stages of Counteroffensive

by Andrew Wright

The deputy defense minister announced on Monday that Ukrainian forces have successfully regained control of seven villages, encompassing an area of 90 square kilometers (35 square miles), from Russian forces in the past week. These early achievements mark the beginning of Kyiv’s counteroffensive against the occupation.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar conveyed through the Telegram app that the Ukrainian flag now flies once again over the village of Storozhov in the eastern Donetsk province. Additionally, her troops have reclaimed three other nearby small villages and three more in the neighboring Zaporizhzhia province.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address, expressed, “The battles are challenging, but we are making progress, and that is of utmost importance.” He acknowledged that the inclement weather is posing difficulties for his troops and mentioned his discussions with military commanders about reinforcing specific points on the front line and strategizing actions to further disrupt Russian positions.

On Sunday, Ukrainian officials confirmed the recapture of the Donetsk villages of Blahodatne, Makarivka, and Neskuchne, situated south of the town of Velyka Novosilka. Maliar reported on Monday that the settlements of Lobkove, Levadne, and Novodrivka in the Zaporizhzhia province are also back under Ukrainian control.

While Ukrainian gains have not been confirmed by Russian officials, they represent incremental territorial wins and highlight the arduous battle Ukrainian forces face in retaking approximately one-fifth of their country currently occupied by Russian forces. The recent hostilities along the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line in southern and eastern Ukraine have been further complicated by a dam breach that resulted in flooding along a portion of the Dnieper River, which separates the two sides.

Western analysts and military officials caution that the effort to expel entrenched and heavily armed Russian troops from Ukraine may span several years, and the outcome of the Ukrainian counteroffensive remains uncertain. French President Emmanuel Macron commented in Paris that the counteroffensive, which commenced several days ago, is anticipated to unfold over weeks or even months.

Vladimir Rogov, an official from the Moscow-appointed administration overseeing the Zaporizhzhia region at the western end of the front line, reported intense battles on Monday involving Russian artillery, mortars, and air power.

These villages are located within an area where Russian front lines extend into Ukrainian territory, albeit a few kilometers deep. Despite their modest size, the recapture of these villages involved breaching the initial line of Russian defenses and potentially opens up avenues for Ukrainian forces to launch deeper thrusts into occupied areas.

Russian forces presently control significantly less Ukrainian land than they did before the blistering Ukrainian counteroffensive of the previous year, which resulted in the recapture of cities such as Kharkiv and Kherson.

President Zelenskyy mentioned on Saturday that “counteroffensive and defensive actions are underway,” without specifying whether it constituted a full-scale counteroffensive, which has long been anticipated following substantial Western support and the provision of air defense systems to Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier claimed that the counteroffensive had begun and that Ukrainian forces were suffering “significant losses.”

Ukrainian forces have primarily focused on the Zaporizhzhia region and an area near the ravaged city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, among other locations.

Russian authorities maintain that their troops are largely holding their ground. However, Semyon Pegov, a prominent Russian military blogger known as WarGonzo, acknowledged the withdrawal of Russian troops from Blahodatne, Neskuchne, and Makarivka, further stating that Ukrainian forces are attempting to advance along the banks of the Mokri Yaly River on Monday.

Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda’s military correspondent, Alexandet Kots, revealed that Ukrainian forces, despite enduring heavy losses, are pressing forward towards the town of Staromlinovka. This town is situated on a strategic highway leading to the port city of Mariupol, which Russian forces captured over a year ago after Ukrainian forces fiercely defended it for several months.

Separately, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported on Monday that at least four civilians lost their lives, and 16 others sustained injuries due to Russian shelling in the past 24 hours.

In Donetsk, Russian shelling struck nine towns and villages, resulting in one civilian fatality and two others wounded. Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko shared images of apartment buildings and a cultural center damaged by Russian strikes in the town of Avdiivka.

In the north, in Kharkiv, Russian forces unleashed artillery, mortar, and rocket fire on several settlements, causing injuries to at least three individuals, according to Oleh Synehubov, the regional state administration chief, who posted the update on Telegram.

The reported advancements made by Ukrainian forces coincided with ongoing efforts by authorities on both sides of the front line to rescue and relocate civilians affected by the flooding resulting from the breach of the Kakhovka dam in the Kherson region last week.

With many residences and shops submerged in polluted river water, the U.N. and other aid organizations emphasize the critical need for access to clean drinking water and warn about the risks of waterborne diseases. Although thousands of people have been evacuated, some individuals remain in affected areas.

Kherson Governor Oleksandr Prokudin mentioned on Monday that water levels have started to recede, currently averaging about 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) above normal, down from the peak level of around 5 meters last week. He further noted that more than 32 towns and villages continue to be flooded, while Russian forces persist in shelling the submerged areas under Ukraine’s control on the river’s western bank.

On Sunday, Governor Prokudin reported that three people were killed when Russian troops opened fire on a boat carrying evacuees from Russian-occupied areas toward Ukrainian-held territories.

This report was compiled with contributions from Illia Novikov in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, by the writers at Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about counteroffensive

What is the current situation in Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces?

Ukrainian forces have successfully recaptured seven villages from Russian forces in the early stages of their counteroffensive. These villages span an area of 90 square kilometers and are located in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia provinces.

How significant are these territorial gains for Ukraine?

While the recaptured villages represent incremental territorial wins, they signal a positive start to Ukraine’s counteroffensive. However, Ukrainian forces still face the challenging task of regaining approximately one-fifth of their country currently under Russian occupation.

How long is the counteroffensive expected to last?

The counteroffensive is anticipated to unfold over several weeks, if not months, according to statements from French President Emmanuel Macron. Western analysts and military officials caution that fully expelling entrenched Russian forces from Ukraine may take years.

Is the situation on the front line intensifying?

Yes, heavy battles are reported along the front line, particularly in the Zaporizhzhia region. Both sides are employing artillery, mortars, and air power in the ongoing conflict.

Are the gains by Ukrainian forces confirmed by Russian officials?

Russian officials have not confirmed Ukraine’s territorial gains. The fluid nature of the conflict makes it difficult to independently verify the situation on the ground, and reversals of control can occur in the to-and-fro of war.

What challenges do Ukrainian forces face in their counteroffensive?

Ukrainian forces are challenged by the difficult terrain, inclement weather, and heavily armed Russian troops. The battle ahead will require a meter-by-meter fight to regain control over occupied areas.

Are there any civilian casualties or humanitarian concerns?

Unfortunately, civilian casualties have been reported, with at least four people killed and several others injured due to Russian shelling. Additionally, the breach of the Kakhovka dam has resulted in flooding, displacing thousands of people and creating a humanitarian crisis with limited access to clean drinking water and the risk of waterborne diseases.

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CurrentEventsFan June 12, 2023 - 10:43 pm

thanks for the reference links, gonna read up on this conflict. need to stay informed about what’s happening in the world.

WarHistoryBuff June 13, 2023 - 12:19 am

these small village recaptures might seem insignifcant but every inch counts in this conflict! keep pushing forward, ukraine!

NewsWatcher42 June 13, 2023 - 2:06 pm

it’s hard to verify wut’s rly going on in the frontline, but it’s clear the battle is intense. hope there’s less casualties soon.

UkrainLover June 13, 2023 - 3:03 pm

wow ukraine fighting bak! so proud! we need 2 supp0rt them in their counteroffensive! go ukraine!

InfoSeeker123 June 13, 2023 - 3:42 pm

i didn’t realize the counteroffensive could take years! that’s a long time to be at war. hope for peace in ukraine.


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