The Ukrainian military on Thursday claimed more success in its counteroffensive against Russian forces on the southeastern front a day after announcing the liberation of a village that had served as a Russian strongpoint.
The military said Ukraine had made progress to the south of Urozhaine, a village in the Donetsk region that Kyiv said on Wednesday it had retaken as it tries to build momentum for a southward push into occupied areas toward the Sea of Azov.
“In the direction south of Urozhaine, [Ukrainian troops] had success,” military spokesman Andriy Kovaliov said on national television. He gave no more details.
Urozhaine was the first village Kyiv said it had retaken since July 27, a stretch of time that signalled the challenge Kyiv faces in advancing through heavily mined Russian defensive lines without powerful air support. It lies about 100 kilometres west of the Russian-held city of Donetsk.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in parts of Zaporizhzhia controlled by Moscow, said Urozhaine and the neighbouring village of Staromaiorske were not under Ukrainian control.
Mr. Rogov, writing on Telegram, said Russian forces had halted a Ukrainian offensive toward the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, to the west of Urozhaine, on Thursday morning.
Ukraine’s Mr. Kovaliov also reported fierce fighting in the northeastern Kharkiv region, and around an eastern village not far from Bakhmut, the city occupied by Russian forces in May after a bloody months-long struggle.
“The enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the area of Senkivka in Kharkiv region and Bohdanivka in Donetsk. There are serious battles here,” he said. “In the Bakhmut direction, defensive forces [Ukraine] continue to conduct offensive actions to the south of Bakhmut.”
A Ukrainian general said on Wednesday that Russia was attacking toward Kupiansk, a town in the Kharkiv region, but Mr. Kovaliov said Ukraine was holding them back, as well as Russian assaults to Bakhmut’s north and near the town of Lyman.
Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine, including the peninsula of Crimea, most of Luhansk region and large tracts of the regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
Kyiv says its counteroffensive is progressing slower than it wanted because of vast Russian minefields and heavily-fortified Russian defensive lines.
Meanwhile, a U.S. official said on Thursday that the United States has approved sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands to defend against Russian invaders as soon as pilot training is completed.
Ukraine has actively sought the U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to help it counter Russian air superiority.
Washington gave Denmark and the Netherlands official assurances that the United States will expedite approval of transfer requests for F-16s to go to Ukraine when the pilots are trained, the official said.
Denmark and the Netherlands had recently asked for those assurances. The U.S. must approve the transfer of the military jets from its allies to Ukraine.