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Business News/ News / World/  Russia-Ukraine war: Ukrainian forces retake seven villages in early counteroffensive stages
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Russia-Ukraine war: Ukrainian forces retake seven villages in early counteroffensive stages

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on the Telegram app that the Ukrainian flag was again flying over the village of Storozhov, in the eastern Donetsk province, and that her troops had also retaken three other nearby small villages and three in neighboring Zaporizhzhia province.

Representational image: Russia-Ukraine war. (AFP)Premium
Representational image: Russia-Ukraine war. (AFP)

Ukrainian forces have recaptured seven villages encompassing an area of 90 square kilometers (35 square miles) from Russian forces in the past week, according to the deputy defence minister.

As per a report by AP, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on the Telegram app that the Ukrainian flag was again flying over the village of Storozhov, in the eastern Donetsk province, and that her troops had also retaken three other nearby small villages and three in neighboring Zaporizhzhia province.

“The battles are tough, but our movement is there, and that is very important," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address." He added that rainy weather is challenging his troops, and that he's discussed with his military commanders “which points of the front we need to strengthen and what actions we can take to break more Russian positions."

Ukrainian authorities announced on Sunday that their forces successfully captured the villages of Blahodatne, Makarivka, and Neskuchne in Donetsk, located south of Velyka Novosilka. Deputy Defense Minister Maliar further confirmed on Monday that the settlements of Lobkove, Levadne, and Novodrivka in Zaporizhzhia province have also been reclaimed by Ukrainian troops.

Russian officials refrained from confirming Ukraine's reported territorial gains, highlighting the challenges of verifying such claims and the potential for reversals in the volatile conflict. These gains, which constituted small portions of territory, underscored the arduous nature of the ongoing battle for Ukrainian forces. Retaking the approximately one-fifth of the country currently under Russian occupation will require a painstaking fight, with progress measured in meters.

The recent clashes on the western flank of the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) frontline have been further complicated by a dam rupture, causing floodwaters to inundate a section of the Dnieper River that acts as a natural barrier between the opposing factions.

Western analysts and military officials have cautioned that an effort to rid Ukraine of entrenched and powerfully armed Russian troops could take years, and the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is far from certain. French President Emmanuel Macron said in Paris that the Ukrainian counteroffensive began several days ago and “is set to be deployed over several weeks, if not months."

Vladimir Rogov, an official with the Moscow-appointed administration of the Zaporizhzhia region at the western end of the front line, said “heavy battles" were raging in the area Monday involving Russian artillery, mortars and air power.

The villages are part of an area where the Russian front lines jut out into territory held by Ukraine. While just a few kilometers (more than 1 mile) deep, the protrusion has recently become one of several epicenters of intense fighting along the front line that cuts across southern and eastern Ukraine.

Despite their small size, the capture of the villages involved an incursion into the first line of Russian defenses and could allow Ukrainian forces to try a deeper thrust into occupied areas.

Russian forces control far less Ukrainian land than they did before a blistering Ukrainian counteroffensive last year that retook the northern city of Kharkiv and southern city of Kherson, among other places.

On Saturday, Zelenskyy said “counteroffensive, defensive actions are taking place" without specifying whether it was the all-out counteroffensive that has long been expected after a vast infusion of Western firepower and air defense systems into Ukraine. A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that the counteroffensive had started and Ukrainian forces were taking “significant losses."

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

Russian authorities have said their troops are largely holding their ground.

But Semyon Pegov, a prominent Russian military blogger who goes by the nickname WarGonzo, acknowledged Russian troops had withdrawn from Blahodatne, Neskuchne and Makarivka, and said Ukrainian forces were trying to push forward along the banks of the Mokri Yaly River on Monday.

Alexandet Kots, military correspondent for Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, said Ukrainian forces were attempting to advance, despite heavy losses, toward the town of Staromlinovka, which sits on a strategic highway leading to the port city of Mariupol. Russian forces captured the city over a year ago, after Ukrainian forces held out for several months in a grueling and desperate defense.

Separately Monday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said least four civilians were killed and 16 others wounded by Russian shelling over the last 24 hours.

In Donetsk, Russian shelling hit nine towns and villages and left one civilian dead and two others wounded. Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko posted images of apartment buildings and a cultural center damaged by Russian strikes in the town of Avdiivka.

In Kharkiv, to the north, Russian forces pummeled several settlements with artillery, mortar and rocket fire, wounding at least three people, regional state administration chief Oleh Synehubov wrote on Telegram.

The reported Ukrainian advance came as authorities on both sides of the front line pressed on with rescue and relocation efforts for civilians in the Kherson region driven from their homes by flooding from the breach of the Kakhovka dam last week.

The presence of contaminated river water submerging numerous homes and businesses has prompted the United Nations and other aid organizations to emphasize the critical need for access to clean drinking water, as water-borne diseases pose a significant risk. While thousands of people have been evacuated, some individuals have chosen to remain in the affected areas.

Kherson Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported on Monday that water levels have started to recede, currently averaging approximately 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) above normal. This is a reduction from the peak level last week, which reached about 5 meters. Prokudin added that over 32 towns and villages are still flooded, and Russian forces have continued to shell the inundated regions under Ukrainian control on the western bank of the river.

Additionally, Prokudin stated on Sunday that three individuals lost their lives when Russian troops opened fire on a boat transporting people from Russian-occupied territories towards areas controlled by Ukraine.

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Published: 13 Jun 2023, 07:10 AM IST
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