As the counter-offensive enters its second week, Ukraine’s forces are steadily advancing on three fronts spanning the 1,000km (620 mile) front line.
With probing attacks underway, the majority of Ukraine’s troops are being held in reserve, patiently awaiting an opportune moment to launch a major offensive and reclaim territory in the southern region of the country, which is currently under Russian control.
The battle has been fierce, resulting in significant casualties on both sides, with conflicting claims of dominance from the opposing armies. While Ukraine’s progress in southern Donetsk has faced obstacles, it continues nonetheless.
The BBC had the opportunity to join the 68th Jaeger Brigade, accompanying its combat forces as they sought to extend their control eastward from the recently recaptured village of Blahodatne.
Their objective: a series of trenches safeguarding Russian forces positioned atop nearby hilltops.
Members of a specialized drone unit swiftly prepare cameras, gather cables, and load a pickup truck with ammunition tins, crates of smoke grenades, and armor-piercing rounds.
Apart from them, signs of life are scarce in Blahodatne. Further down a lane, the wreckage of two heavily armored MRAP vehicles lay abandoned, one reduced to a burnt-out shell. More disabled mine-resistant vehicles are scattered in the fields beyond.
“Stay clear of those; the Russians keep targeting them,” we are cautioned. Russia has emphasized the losses of Western-donated tanks and vehicles, even as Vladimir Putin acknowledged his own country’s loss of dozens of tanks since the start of the counter-offensive on June 5th.
Ukrainian troops are simultaneously launching attacks at three key points: Bakhmut, where advances are being made both north and south of the city, which remains firmly under Russian control; south of Zaporizhzhia; and in southern Donetsk, where a number of villages have been successfully retaken.