Ukraine claims recapture of seven villages in early stages of counteroffensive

Ukrainian troops have retaken seven villages spanning 90 square kilometers (35 square miles) from Russian forces in the past week, the deputy defense minister said Monday as the early stages of Kiev's counteroffensive notched small successes.

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 Zelensky 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."

On Sunday, Ukrainian officials said their troops took the Donestk villages of Blahodatne, Makarivka and Neskuchne — south of the town of Velyka Novosilka. Maliar reported Monday that the Zaporizhzhia province settlements of Lobkove, Levadne and Novodrivka were also now back under Ukrainian control.

Russian officials did not confirm Ukraine's gains, which were impossible to verify and could be reversed in the to-and-fro of war. The gains amounted to only small bits of territory and underscored the difficulty of the battle ahead for Ukrainian forces, who will have to fight meter by meter to regain the roughly one-fifth of their country under Russian occupation.

Recent fighting on the western edge of the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line has been complicated by a dam breach that sent floodwaters into a part of the Dnieper River separating the two...

Continue reading on: