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Ukraine recaptures fourth village in modest counteroffensive gains – Kyiv

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By Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine said on Monday its troops had recaptured a fourth village in a cluster of settlements in the southeast, a day after reporting the first small gains of a counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Soldiers held up the Ukrainian flag in Storozheve in the Donetsk region in unverified video footage posted online and the defence minister thanked the 35th Separate Brigade of Marines for regaining control of the village.

Ukraine has enforced strict operational silence to avoid compromising an operation it hopes will retake swathes of land in the east and south, and threaten the land bridge Russia uses to supply the occupied Crimea peninsula.

Russia, which said last week the counteroffensive had begun, has depicted it as a failure so far, posting images of destroyed American and German-made fighting vehicles and tanks.

Reuters was unable to verify the situation on the battlefield.

Ukraine said on Sunday its forces had liberated three villages — Blahodatne, Neskuchne and Makarivka — that lie on the edge of Donetsk region next to Zaporizhzhia region. Storozheve is adjacent to Blahodatne.

The reported advance, if confirmed, appears modest, with Makarivka about 5 km (3 miles) from what had been the front line. Makarivka is 90 km from the southern rim of the Russian land bridge on the Sea of Azov.

Some prominent Russian military bloggers said fighting for Makarivka was still raging but confirmed Ukrainian forces had taken Blahodatne and Neskuchne.

Russia has built sprawling fortifications to defend against an attack by Ukrainian troops trained and equipped by the West.

Ukraine’s armed forces general staff said in its regular fighting update that 25 battles raged in the previous 24 hours near Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka in the Donetsk region, and near Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern military command, said Ukrainian forces had continued to counterattack on the flanks of Bakhmut and had pushed Russian forces back by up to 700 metres there.

Russia said it captured the devastated city last month after some of the bloodiest fighting of its February 2022 full-scale invasion.

Both sides have said their forces have inflicted heavy losses on each other over the past week.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv, Anna Pruchnicka in Gdansk and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; editing by Timothy Heriatge)

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