A top Ukrainian general hailed the recent recapture of two eastern villages as an important breakthrough on Monday, saying it had enabled Kyiv’s troops to breach Russian lines near the shattered city of Bakhmut.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in early June to try to take back the lost territory but has reported slow, steady progress against entrenched Russian positions, retaking a string of villages but no major settlements. Zelenskiy and other officials have dismissed Western criticism that the offensive is too slow and hampered by strategic errors.
Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said earlier on Monday that Ukrainian forces had retaken 51 square km (19 square miles) near Bakhmut since the start of the counteroffensive.
Ukraine has also regained more than 260 square km of land in the south during the counteroffensive, she said.
Maliar was one of six deputy defence ministers whose removal was announced later on Monday as part of a reshuffle at the ministry under a new defence minister.