Ukraine Announces First Victories of Its Counteroffensive

3 villages in Donetsk region liberated, Kyiv says
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2023 12:40 AM CDT
Ukraine Announces First Victories of Its Counteroffensive
A Ukrainian soldier fires a mortar at Russian positions on the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, May 28, 2023.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

In what the BBC calls the first victories of its counteroffensive against Russia, Ukraine on Sunday announced it had liberated three villages in the Donetsk region. Troops could be seen on video raising the Ukrainian flag over Blahodatne, and in another video, soldiers are shown in Neskuchne celebrating and holding their unit's banner. Ukraine's deputy defense minister announced later Sunday that the village of Makarivka had also been retaken. They're the first settlements to have been officially confirmed as liberated in the week since the counteroffensive began, the Guardian reports. Russia has not confirmed any of the villages as having been recaptured. Russian military bloggers have, however, reported that Urozhaine, a village further south, is being "fiercely contested."

As the Guardian points out, though, Ukrainian troops aren't yet close to Russia’s main fortified defensive line, and the BBC reports the villages recaptured so far are relatively small. But analysts have suggested Ukraine could look to retake the port city of Mariupol soon, or to break the land bridge connecting occupied Crimea and Donetsk so that Russian troops are isolated on the peninsula. There were other signs of the counteroffensive gaining steam: railway lines supplying Crimea as well as the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region were blown up in sabotage attacks, and Ukrainian drone boats attacked a Russian naval intelligence collection vessel on the Black Sea. For its part, Ukraine says Russia is blowing up dams in the area in an effort to slow the counteroffensive's advance. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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