Ukrainian forces recaptured at least two villages from Russian occupation on Sunday, footage has appeared to show, as Kyiv celebrated its first liberations of the long-awaited counter offensive campaign. Videos appeared on Sunday morning and into the afternoon showing Ukrainian soldiers triumphantly hoisting the national flag in the neighboring villages of Blahodatne and Neskuchne, located in the Donetsk region towards the direction of Mariupol further south, which is believed to be one of Kyiv’s objectives during this Sixth stage of offensive operations.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar later claimed in a Telegram video that Ukraine’s forces had also taken the village of Makarivka, a few miles further south.
Nearly halfway up the more than 600-mile frontline, Ukrainian forces said they drove out Russian fighters from the village of Blahodatne, in the partially occupied Donetsk region.
Ukraine’s 68th Separate Hunting Brigade posted a video on Facebook that showed soldiers installing a Ukrainian flag on a damaged building in the village.
Myroslav Semeniuk, spokesperson for the brigade, said that an assault team captured six Russian troops after entering several buildings 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.”
Ukrainian forces of the 7th separate battalion “AREY” in Neskuchne class=”text-description”>
The battlefield showdown in the south-east and chaotic scenes from inundated southern Ukraine marked the latest upheaval and bloodshed in Russia’s war in Ukraine, now in its 16th month.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the Zaporizhzhia region, insisted that Blahodatne and two other villages in the region were in a “grey area” in terms of who controls them, but he admitted that Russian fighters had been forced to leave the village. of Neskuchne.
Footage published later on Sunday purported to show the Ukrainian forces of the 7th separate battalion “AREY” in Neskuchne, waving a flag of their own.
An army spokesperson said the gains were the first localized victories of the counter offensive.
READ MORE: Kyiv says troops are advancing across the entire eastern front [REVEAL]
The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday continued to insist that it was repelling Ukrainian attacks in the area.
It said in a statement that Ukrainian attempts at offensive operations on the southern Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia axes of the frontline over the past 24 hours had been “unsuccessful”.
But Volodymyr Zelensky, although maintaining his policy of silence when speaking about the counter offensives, praised his soldiers in his nightly address.
He said: “I am grateful to our warriors for this day. To each of our combat brigades, each of our units.
“The Khortytsia and Tavria operational and strategic groups of troops – all those who are now in combat, all those who are in positions, all those who are helping… I thank you! Thank you for every step, for every battle, for every destroyed occupier!”
Top presidential advisor Andriy Yermak posted a Ukrainian flag just after noon local time on Sunday as the first reports that Blahodatne had been liberated appeared on social media.
Anton Geraschenko, a government advisor, also posted a picture of soldiers holding a Ukrainian flag, celebrating the liberations.
Mr. Zelensky confirmed on Saturday that Ukrainian counter-offensive actions were underway.
Notwithstanding the fact that the recapture of Blahodatne pointed to a small Ukrainian advance, Western and Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly cautioned that efforts to expel Russian troops more broadly are expected to take time. Russia has made much of how its troops have held their ground elsewhere.