Ukraine hails first territorial gain in counteroffensive

Ukraine soldiers drills

Ukraine says its soldiers have retaken three settlements from Russian forces in the country’s southeast, the first freed localities recorded since the counteroffensive began.

In an unverified video posted on Sunday by Ukraine’s 68th Jaeger Brigade, soldiers were seen raising the Ukrainian flag at a bombed-out building. The settlement was named as Blahodatne in the Donetsk region.

“We’re seeing the first results of the counteroffensive actions, localised results,” Valeriy Shershen, spokesperson for Ukraine’s “Tavria” military sector, said on television.

According to a statement from the deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar, Ukrainian forces also retook Makarivka, the following village to the south. They did this by moving between 300 and 1,500 metres (985 and 4,920 feet) in two directions on the southern front.

Unverified video showing soldiers from a Ukrainian territorial defence unit raising their flag in Neskuchne, the village closest to Ukrainian fortifications in the region, was also uploaded on Telegram.

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“No positions were lost on the directions where our forces are on the defensive,” Maliar added.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, lauded his forces in his evening video message but avoided mentioning the precise locations of the alleged battle.

“Of course, I am thankful to our soldiers for this day,” Zelenskyy said, referring only to the two main sectors of the fighting in the east and the south.

“Each one of our combat brigades, each of our units.”

According to Myroslav Semeniuk, a spokesperson for the Jaeger Brigade, an assault squad in Blahodatne, on the border of the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions, seized six Russian soldiers after breaking into three houses where some 60 soldiers were holed up.

“The enemy keeps shelling us but this won’t stop us,” Semeniuk said. “The next village we plan to reclaim is Urozhayne. After that, [we’ll proceed] further south.”

Russian military bloggers close to the Kremlin wrote that Blahodatne was abandoned because Moscow’s fighters feared encirclement.

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