Ukraine greets the first recaptured territory in a counter-offensive

Adeyemi Adeyemi

Global Courant

Ukraine said its forces recaptured three villages from Russian forces in the southeast, the first liberated settlements it reported since launching a counter-offensive.

Soldiers raise the Ukrainian flag near a bombed-out building in an unverified video published Sunday by Ukraine’s 68th Jaeger Brigade, which identified the settlement as Blahodatne in the Donetsk region.

“We are seeing the first results of the counter-offensive actions, local results,” Valeriy Shershen, spokesman for the Ukrainian military sector “Tavria”, said on television.

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He said the village of Blahodatne was on the outskirts of the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions, a few kilometers south of the Kyiv-controlled village of Velyka Novosilka.

Myroslav Semeniuk, spokesman for the brigade, told The Associated Press that an assault team captured six Russian troops after entering several buildings where some 60 soldiers had holed up.

“The enemy keeps shooting at us, but this won’t stop us,” Semeniuk said. ‘The next village we want to recapture is Urozhayne. Then (we go) further south.”

Russian military bloggers close to the Kremlin wrote that Blahodatne had been abandoned because Moscow’s fighters feared encirclement.

Ukrainian forces also recaptured Makarivka, the next village ahead, and advanced between 300 and 1,500 meters (985-4,920 feet) along two directions on the southern front, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a statement.

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A Ukrainian territorial defense unit also posted unverified footage on Telegram of its soldiers holding up their flag in Neskuchne, the village closest to Ukrainian positions in the area.

“No positions have been lost in the directions where our forces are on the defensive,” Maliar added.

‘Kick the Enemy Out’

The Russian defense ministry continued to insist on Sunday that it repelled Ukrainian attacks in the area. It said in a statement that Ukrainian attempts at offensive operations on the southern Donetsk and Zaporizhia axis of the frontline had “failed” in the past 24 hours.

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Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the Zaporizhia region, insisted that Blahodatne and two other villages in the region were in a “grey area” as to who controls them.

With so little information and little independent reporting from the front lines, it was almost impossible to assess the situation on the battlefield.

“We are kicking the enemy out of our native land. It’s the warmest feeling there is. Ukraine is going to win, Ukraine above all,” said an unidentified soldier in Blahodatne’s video.

The occupied southeast is seen as a likely priority for Kyiv’s forces that may want to threaten Russia’s land bridge to the annexed Crimean peninsula and split the Russian forces in two.

Makarivka is located about 90 km northwest of the city of Mariupol, which lies on the Sea of ​​Azov on the southern edge of the land bridge. Russia captured the great city last year after weeks of siege and bombardment.

Russia has built massive fortifications in occupied territory to prepare for a Ukrainian counterattack using thousands of troops trained and equipped by the West.

In her statement, Maliar also said Ukrainian forces continued their offensive operations in the east near the devastated city of Bakhmut, advancing 250 meters (820 feet) near the Berkhivka reservoir.

Russia said it captured the city of Bakhmut last month after the bloodiest and longest battle since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, but Kiev says it is regaining ground on the city’s flanks.

Chaotic scenes

Meanwhile, top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said six people were injured after Russian troops opened fire on a boat evacuating people from areas into Ukrainian territory along a flooded frontline far to the south.

Chaotic scenes from flooded southern Ukraine marked the latest turmoil and bloodshed in Russia’s war in Ukraine, now in its 16th month.

Andriy Yermak, the president’s chief of staff, wrote on his Telegram account that the injured were rushed to hospital in the southern city of Kherson. An AP team on the scene saw three ambulances drop off injured evacuees at a hospital, one of whom was spattered with blood and taken to the emergency room by stretcher.

Also on Sunday, the Russian army accused Ukrainian forces of attacking – albeit unsuccessfully – one of their ships in the Black Sea.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the attack attempt occurred when six unmanned speedboats targeted the Russian reconnaissance vessel Priazovye which was “monitoring the situation and ensuring security along the routes of the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines in the southeastern part of the Black Sea”.

All speedboats were destroyed by the Russian army and the ship suffered no damage, the ministry said. The claim could not be independently verified and Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment.

Ukraine and Russia reported exchanging dozens of POWs on Sunday. Russia said 94 of its soldiers have been released and Yermak said 95 Ukrainians have been released.


Ukraine greets the first recaptured territory in a counter-offensive

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