Only two days after Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky acknowledged that his forces were undertaking their long-awaited offensive, Kyiv has said that it has liberated at least five villages.
Zelensky was tight-lipped about the details of the operation on Saturday but by Monday, his deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar touted gains in the country’s south while the armed forces said some settlements had been recaptured.
Ukraine’s armed forces general staff said on Monday its forces had been engaged in heavy battles in frontline hotspots and that 25 battles had taken place over the past day.
These were near the eastern town of Bakhmut and further south near Avdiivka and Maryinka, in the Donetsk region, as well as near Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region.
This screen grab from a clip shared by Ukrainian armed forces shows troops with a flag after purportedly liberating the village of Storozheve in the Donetsk region. Kyiv has said that several villages have been recaptured after its long-awaited counteroffensive started. Via social media
Marina Miron, a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, said that Ukraine was trying to break through Russia’s echeloned defense system “which is quite complex and may have been underestimated.”
“However, these are just early attempts and do not tell us anything about how the entire operation will unfold,” she told Newsweek.
She said that the Ukrainian progress in pushing Russian troops out of several villages was “slow, and it will not be linear.”
“The Russians understand the threat and will use the available means to prevent the Ukrainian side from severing the land bridge to Crimea,” she said. “So, it will be a very difficult few months for both parties. “
With the counteroffensive very much in its early phase, here is a list of villages Ukraine has claimed to have liberated. Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.
On Monday, the Separate Zaporizhzhia Territorial Defense Brigade said it had liberated the village of Novodarivka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
In a post on Facebook next to a picture of a group of troops holding a Ukrainian flag, the brigade said that “numerous attempts by the enemy to return the settlement under control, which lasted several days, were unsuccessful.”
The Institute for the Study of War also wrote about the settlement’s liberation, citing Ukrainian and Russian sources. A mechanized unit was also reportedly involved in the operation, according to the Kyiv Independent.
The Tavriisk defense forces’ press center reported on Monday that Ukraine’s armed forces liberated the village of Storozheve, located nearly two miles south of Velyka Novosilka in Donetsk Oblast, which is one of the principal axes of the counteroffensive.
It was was recaptured by Ukraine’s 35th Separate Marine Infantry Brigade, according to the press center, which released a video of troops holding the Ukrainian flag.
“The national flag is flying over Storozheve again, and it will be the same with every settlement until we liberate all Ukrainian land,” deputy defense minister Maliar said on her Telegram channel.
Footage shared on Sunday showed Ukrainian fighters unfurling their ensign in Blahodatne, located south of Velyka Novosilka.
Ukraine’s 68th brigade said on Facebook that in combination with the 3rd mechanized battalion of the presidential brigade, Kyiv’s forces had liberated the settlement.
The military did not specify the location of the settlement, several of which have the same name, but multiple Ukrainian media outlets, along with the Deep State volunteer group, that crowd-sources an online map, said it was a village located near the town of Velyka Novosilka, west of Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast.
“The invaders resisted to the last, but could not withstand the onslaught,” said the post according to a translation, which added that Russian soldiers were captured.
This will help “in the further de-occupation of Ukrainian land,” said the post.
The 7th Motorized Infantry Battalion of Ukraine’s 129th Territorial Defense Brigade reported on Sunday that it had liberated the Donetsk Oblast village of Neskuchne.
A video posted on Facebook by the battalion shows its troops holding the unit flag near a partially destroyed building in the settlement located near Velyka Novosilka.
As Ukraine’s military said its forces were storming Russian positions near the cities of Donetsk and Bakhmut, it added that the village of Makarivka had been liberated from Moscow’s occupation.
In a Telegram post, Maliar said on Sunday that there had been an advance of 250 meters in the area of the Berkhiv Reservoir.
In addition to announcing an advance of up to a mile in the south, Makarivka was said to be among the settlements that have been “de-occupied.”
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