Heavy fighting over the weekend saw Ukraine's long-awaited offensive regain territory from Russian forces but at a cost of lives and heavy armor, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Image courtesy of Russian Defense Ministry
June 12 (UPI) -- Ukrainian forces said Monday they recaptured four villages in the Donetsk region as its long-awaited counter-offensive swung into gear, but early advances are being measured in yards rather than miles.
Deputy Defense Minister Anna Maliar said on Telegram that troops retook the villages of Blagodatne, Makarivka and Storozhov in the southeast Donetsk region on Sunday.
"In the areas where our troops are on the defensive, no position was lost," she said.
A Ukraine Defense Ministry social media post saying Neskuchne had been "liberated" by the 129th Territorial Defense Brigade was accompanied by a video showing Ukrainian troops raising a flag atop a heavily damaged building in the settlement.
"Oleksi Dovbush, in cooperation with neighboring units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine (including the 3 mechanized battalions of a separate Presidential Brigade), released the settlement Blagodatne," the 68th Jaeger Brigade said on its Facebook page.
The brigade, designated for operations in forests and marshlands, said it overcame fierce resistance from Russian occupiers to retake the settlement located on the border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The 68th, which is named for Ukrainian folk hero Oleksi Dovbush, said it had taken enemy troops prisoner -- without providing numbers -- and said they would be used to obtain intelligence to assist in the offensive.
But according to Ukrainian state broadcaster Suspilne, the offensive in the south was only edging ahead with a two-pronged advance managing to push the front forward by less than a mile.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces are continuing to advance on Bakhmut with some success in the area of the Berkhiv Reservoir.
The Russian Defense Ministry contradicted Ukrainian claims mentioning only "continued unsuccessful attempts at offensive actions in South Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk directions" in which 50 Armed Forces of Ukraine troops had been killed and 36 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored fighting vehicles had been destroyed.
"In the area of Vremevka, Operational-Tactical and Army aviation have hit manpower and hardware concentration areas of the 1st Separate Brigade of the President of Ukraine, the 110th Brigade of Territorial Defence, the 72nd Mechanised and 1st Tank Brigades of the AFU near Novodonetskoye, Neskuchnoye, Storozhevoye and Oktyabr state farm" in Donetsk.