Ukrainian military officials on Monday claimed to have retaken a fourth southeastern village from Russian forces amid its counteroffensive operations.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar posted Monday on Telegram that Ukraine’s flag was again flying over the village of Storozhov in the eastern Donetsk region. Her statement came one day after Ukrainian officials said their troops had taken three other small villages nearby: Blahodatne, Makarivka and Neskuchne.
Ukrainian officials had been tight-lipped until last week about the launching of the counteroffensive to take back Russia-occupied Ukrainian territory, though it had reportedly been rolling out gradually for days or weeks.
On Saturday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that “counteroffensive, defensive actions” are now taking place in Ukraine.
His statement came one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin had admitted that the counteroffensive had started, though he asserted that Ukraine was taking “significant losses” in the fighting.
On Monday, Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, tweeted video that he said was of a U.S.-made “HIMARS rocket destroying a Russian Grad MLRS [Multiple Launch Rocket System] somewhere at Zaporizhzhia direction.”
He added, “This has saved a lot of Ukrainian lives. Glory to Heroes!”
Vladimir Rogov, a Moscow-appointed official in Zaporizhzhia, which is in the western portion of the front line, said Monday that “heavy battles are raging” in the area.
Ukrainian forces have homed in on several patches in recent days, including the Zaporizhzhia region as well as territory around the devastated Donetsk city of Bakhmut.
Capturing the small villages is an incursion into Russian front-line defenses could potentially allow Ukrainian forces to attempt a deeper push into occupied areas. Russian forces currently control about one-fifth of Ukraine’s total territory—far less than they held before Ukrainian’s counteroffensives last year that recaptured such crucial areas as the northern city of Kharkiv.
However, the recent fighting on the western edge of a 600-mile front line has been complicated by a dam breach on the Dnipro River separating the two sides.
Zelensky noted Sunday afternoon that rescue efforts in the Kherson region were continuing, saying that already some 4,000 people have been evacuated from the Dnipro flooding that resulted from the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.
“Russian terrorists continue to shell evacuation routes, evacuation points, boats that take people away…Today, as a result of one of these attacks, three people were killed,” Zelensky said on Sunday. “Ten more people were injured, including two police officers.”
While the official cause for its destruction is still under investigation, Ukraine last week accused Russia of blowing up the dam while Moscow officials accused Kyiv of striking the structure with missiles to distract attention from what Russia said were failures in its counteroffensive.