Ukrainian forces have recaptured nearly 15 square km (5.8 square miles) of land from Russian troops in the east and south over the past week during their counteroffensive, a senior defense official said on Monday.
Kyiv’s forces have now retaken 204.7 sq km in the south since they launched a major push against Russian forces early last month, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukrainian officials have reported slow, steady progress in the counteroffensive, retaking a string of villages and advancing on the flanks of the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces captured in May after months of battles.
Last week Kyiv said its forces had liberated the village of Staromaiorske in the southeast in a campaign that aims to cut Russia’s land bridge from the east to the south and the occupied peninsula of Crimea on the Black Sea.
Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, holds vast swathes of territory and has built up a network of fortifications and minefields to make it hard for Ukrainian troops to advance.
Maliar said Kyiv’s troops had retaken 2 sq km in the past week on the Bakhmut front, bringing the total territory recaptured there to 37 sq km since the counteroffensive began.
In the south, where Ukrainian forces are trying to advance towards the cities of Berdyansk and Melitopol, she said that Kyiv’s troops had recaptured 12.6 sq km in the last week.
Russian troops tried to attack on two northern fronts near Kupiansk and Lyman, but failed to break through, she said.
“Our defense forces are powerfully holding back enemy troops,” she said.
The Kremlin said on Monday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is “not working out as planned” and that NATO resources supplied to Kyiv had been “wasted”.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield developments.