Ukraine Says It Retakes Territory In South, East As US Backs Counteroffensive


(RFE/RL) — Ukraine says it has liberated seven settlements in the south and eastern regions of the country and made further advances in Bakhmut amid heavy fighting, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was confident the counteroffensive would make progress and that it was maximizing its support to insure Kyiv’s “success on the battlefield.”

Blinken told reporters in Washington on June 12 that a “robust” package of support could be expected at the upcoming summit of the NATO alliance in Lithuania on July 11-12.

“Success in the counteroffensive would do two things: It would strengthen [Kyiv’s] position at any negotiating table that emerges, and it may have the effect as well of actually causing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to finally focus on negotiating an end to the war that he started,” Blinken said during a joint news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

“In that sense, it can actually bring peace closer, not put it further away,” Blinken said, adding that Washington would “maximize our support to Ukraine now, so it can have success on the battlefield.”

Kyiv’s long-anticipated counteroffensive to regain territory occupied by Russia appeared to be kicking into gear, although both sides reported gains on the battlefield on June 12.

“The national flag is flying over [the village of] Storozhove again, and this will be the case with every settlement until we liberate all Ukrainian land,” the Ukrainian forces’ press center reported in a message accompanied by a video showing Ukrainian soldiers patrolling the village.

Ukraine on June 11 said three Donetsk villages — Makarivka, Neskuchne, and Blahodatne — had been retaken by Kyiv’s forces. The claim could not be independently confirmed.

Later, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the villages of Lobkove, Levadne, and Novodarivka in the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region had been taken, although Russian officials said Ukrainian forces had been repelled in some of those areas..

The claims could not be independently confirmed. 

Earlier, a territorial defense group called the Zaporizhzhya Separate Territorial Defense Brigade said it had freed the village of Novodarivka in the southern region more than a week ago.

“On June 4, 2023, as part of a defense operation, the village of Novodarivka was liberated from the occupiers by the joint actions of the mechanized unit and the combined unit of the Zaporizhzhya Separate Territorial Defense Brigade. Numerous attempts by the enemy to return the settlement under their control that lasted for several days were unsuccessful,” the group said on Facebook.

In the Bakhmut area, the Ukrainian military has managed to advance up to 700 meters, while the Russian army suffered losses, Serhiy Cherevatiy, a spokesman for the Eastern Group of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, told Ukrainian state television on June 12.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the previous day that Ukrainian forces continued to make advances in Bakhmut area.

The Donetsk city of Bakhmut was the scene of the longest and fiercest battle for the control of the Donbas where Ukraine had put up a fierce defense for several months before recently going on the offensive.

Earlier on June 12, the General Staff of Ukraine’s military said heavy fighting had been taking place over the past day in Bakhmut, Lyman, Avdiyivka, and Maryinka areas in Donetsk. It reported a total of 25 combat clashes over that period of time in the area.

A resident of Avdiyivka was killed as a result of shelling by Russian troops, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on June 12.

Meanwhile, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that “Army Group East has repelled three attacks by the opponents in the direction of Velyka Novosilka in the Donetsk Republic and in the area around the village of Levadne in Zaporizhzhya.”

Many analysts have speculated that Ukraine will seek to move southeast toward Mariupol, an industrial city on the Azov Sea, in order to cut off and encircle Russian forces to the west.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been complicated by the bursting on June 6 of the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of mining the dam and deliberately causing its destruction to flood Kherson region in the south and slow down its counteroffensive.

Ukraine said 10 people were killed in the region by the floods resulting from the dam breach and that 41 people remained missing.

Zelenskiy said in a video message posted on his Telegram channel late on June 11 that about 4,000 people had been evacuated from the flooded areas in Kherson.

Zelenskiy added that dozens of towns and villages remain flooded, and “the worst situation, as before, is in the temporarily occupied part of the Kherson region, from where volunteers are helping to evacuate Ukrainians under fire from the occupiers.”

The United Nations has warned of catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the dam breach and resulting flooding.

The destruction of the dam has sparked concerns about the safety of the nearby Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant — Europe’s largest. But Ukrainian Environment Minister Ruslan Strylets said on June 12 that the water levels in the plant’s cooling ponds are stable and sufficiently high. “The situation is now under control,” Strylets told Ukrainian television.

His statement came ahead of a visit that Rafael Grossi, the chief of the UN’s nuclear agency, the IAEA, is due to begin at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant on June 13.

On June 11, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces had blown up another dam, in Zaporizhzhya region, near the village of Novodarivka.

The destruction of the dam “led to the flooding on both banks of the Mokri Yaliy River,” said military spokesman Valeriy Shershen.

He said the incident did not affect the Ukrainian military operations in the area. The information could not be independently confirmed immediately.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *