On Monday, Ukrainian military officials announced that their troops had retaken another southeastern village from Russian forces, marking one of the initial, albeit modest, successes in their intensified counteroffensive operations against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been ongoing for over 15 months.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar conveyed on Telegram that the Ukrainian flag was once again raised over the village of Storozhov, expressing her belief that the eventual outcome would be the liberation of “all Ukrainian land.” The day before, Ukrainian officials had reported the liberation of three other small villages located in close proximity to each other, to the south of the town of Velika Novosilke in the eastern Donetsk region.
The villages are located in the so-called “Vremivka ledge,” a section of the front line where the Russian-controlled area protrudes into territory held by Ukraine. The area has become one of several epicenters of intense fighting.
The Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t confirmed the Russian retreat from the villages, but some military bloggers have acknowledged the loss of Russian control over them.
Russian authorities, meanwhile, have said their troops have largely held their ground along the more than 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) arc of front line along southern and eastern Ukraine.
Western analysts and military officials have cautioned any effort to rid entrenched, powerfully armed and skilled Russian troops will likely take months, and the success of any Ukrainian counteroffensive is far from certain.
“counteroffensive, defensive actions are taking place”
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “counteroffensive, defensive actions are taking place” without specifying it was an all-out counteroffensive, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that the counteroffensive had started — and Ukraine military were taking “significant losses.” He did not elaborate, and Ukrainian authorities have not publicly specified losses among their troops.
The reported Ukrainian advance comes as authorities on both sides of the active front line along the Dnieper River in the southern Kherson region pressed on with rescue and relocation efforts for civilians driven from their homes by flooding from the breach of the Kakhovka dam last week.
The U.N. and other aid groups say access to fresh drinking water is a crucial need and the possible spread of water-borne disease a big worry.