Ukraine claims recapture of 4th village in eastern Donetsk

Ukrainian military officials said Monday their troops have retaken another southeastern village from Russian forces, among the first — small — successes in stepped-up counteroffensive operations as the war drags on into its 16th month.

Western analysts and military officials have cautioned that an effort to rid Ukraine of entrenched, powerfully armed and skilled Russian troops could take years, and the success of any Ukrainian counteroffensive is far from certain.

Despite their small size, capturing the villages is an incursion into the first line of Russian defenses and could allow Ukrainian forces to try a deeper thrust into occupied areas. Russian forces now control land totaling about one-fifth of Ukraine's total territory, though that's far less than they held before blistering Ukrainian counteroffensives last year that retook the northern city of Kharkiv and southern city of Kherson.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "counteroffensive, defensive actions are taking place" without specifying whether it was an all-out counteroffensive, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that the counteroffensive had started and Ukrainian forces were taking "significant losses." He did not elaborate, and Ukrainian authorities have not publicly specified losses among their troops.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Telegram that Ukraine's flag was again flying over the village of Storozhov. A day earlier, Ukrainian officials said they had taken three other small villages — Blahodatne, Makarivka and Neskuchne — south of the town of Velyka Novosilka in the eastern Donetsk region.

The small villages — Blahodatne, for example, had a pre-invasion population of about 1,000 people — are located in...

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