KYIV(AFP)- Ukrainian military officials announced that they had successfully recaptured another village in southeastern Donetsk from Russian forces. The battle marks one of the earliest, albeit small, victories in a swift counter-offensive as it enters its 16th month.
While Western analysts and military officials warn that ridding Ukraine of strong and well-equipped Russian troops could be a long process, recent developments indicate a glimmer of hope for Ukraine’s forces.
Fighting on the western edge of the 1,000-kilometer front line has been complicated by the collapse of a dam that has allowed floodwaters to enter the Dnieper River, separating the two warring sides.
Deputy Minister of Defense Hina Miliar wrote on the Telegram app and confirmed that the Ukrainian flag has been raised once again over the village of Storozov in eastern Donetsk region. Additionally, Ukrainian authorities revealed that their troops had successfully recaptured three other nearby villages, namely Bilhodtne, Makaryuka, and Neskochne, located south of Velika Novoselka.
These seemingly unimportant villages are of strategic importance as they penetrate into the territory occupied by Russian forces. Capturing them penetrates the first line of Russian defense and opens the possibility of a deep advance into the occupied territories. It is worth noting that Russian forces currently occupy about one-fifth of Ukraine’s total territory, which is significantly less than what they held before the Ukrainian retaliation last year, which resulted in Kharkiv and Cities like Khorsan were recaptured.
Russian artillery, mortars and air power have been heavily involved in the ongoing clashes, as confirmed by Vladimir Rogov, an official representing the Moscow-appointed administration in the Zaporozhye region. He said that heavy fighting was taking place in the area, adding to the already volatile situation.
Russian military blogger Semyon Pegov, known as War Gonzo, acknowledged the withdrawal of Russian troops from Bilhodatne, Neskuchne, and Makaryuka. He also noted the efforts of the Ukrainian forces to advance along the Mokri Yali River. Meanwhile, Ukrainian military correspondent Alexandrite Kots reported that despite heavy losses, Ukrainian forces were advancing towards Staromlinovka, a town strategically located along a major highway leading to Mariupol. Is. Russian forces took control of the seaport city of Azov a year ago after a long and difficult defense by Ukrainian forces.
Amidst the fighting, Ukrainian officials have reported civilian casualties due to Russian shelling. At least four civilians have been killed and 16 others injured in the past 24 hours. Russian attacks have damaged apartment buildings and cultural centers in Avdiivka, while settlements in Kharkiv have been hit by artillery, mortar and rocket fire, resulting in injuries.
Ukraine’s advance coincides with ongoing rescue and evacuation efforts for civilians affected by flooding caused by the Kakhuvka dam failure in the Kherson region. The United Nations and other aid groups have highlighted the urgent need for access to clean drinking water and the risk of water-borne diseases in flood-prone areas. While the water level is receding, about 32 towns and villages are under water, and Russian forces continue to shell the areas on the west bank of the river.
International attention has been drawn to the situation, with representatives of the International Criminal Court visiting the region to investigate the disaster. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi stressed the importance of international justice for the consequences of what Ukraine sees as a Russian act of terrorism. Tensions remain as both sides grapple with the complexities of the conflict and work towards a solution.
As the seasons change and Ukraine enters its second summer of conflict, Ukrainian troops are actively testing the strength of Russian defenses. Despite facing an adversary that has made mistakes and experienced setbacks in the 15-month-long war, Kyiv’s forces are up against a more formidable opponent. Analysts suggest that Moscow has learned from its past blunders and has significantly improved its weaponry and military capabilities.
Russia has constructed fortified defenses along the extensive 1,000-kilometer front line, utilizing advanced electronic warfare systems to mitigate Ukraine’s advantage in combat drones. Furthermore, it has transformed heavy bombs from its vast Cold-War-era arsenal into precision-guided gliding munitions, enabling it to target specific locations without risking the safety of its warplanes. These developments have strengthened Russia’s military position and pose a significant challenge for Ukrainian forces.