Ukrainian forces have been trying to regain territory from the Russians for the past few days, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who described them as “capable and willing” to do so.
Here is the situation on the spot:
Counterattack near the capital: A Ukrainian counterattack north and west of Kiev appeared to have made progress, threatening Russian efforts to surround the capital and threatening the ability of Russian forces to supply the front units exposed north of the city.
Makariv: One such area is Makariv, a strategic city 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Kiev. After days of fighting, Ukrainian forces regained control of the city, Ukraine’s armed forces said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. CNN could not confirm the claim. Makariv had sustained significant damage from ongoing Russian airstrikes, with video showing extensive destruction. If Ukrainian forces consolidate their control over Makariv, it would be more difficult for Russian forces to secure the western approaches to Kiev and then push further south.
North of Kiev: There are also indications that Russian forces have suffered setbacks north of Kiev in areas they have had almost since the beginning of the invasion. A short video geolocated by CNN showed Ukrainian troops walking in the city of Moschun, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) north of the capital. A Ukrainian drone video geolocated over the weekend showed the destruction of Russian armor in the same area.
Irpin River Flood: Satellite images from Monday showed growing flooding from the Irpin River. CNN has previously reported that a dam along the Dnieper River flooded the Irpin River basin and its tributaries. The river is crucial to the Russian advance towards Kiev; if the Russians can not cross it, they can not take Kyiv from the west. It is unclear how the dam began to flood: whether the gates were opened on purpose by the Ukrainians, or whether it was hit by a military attack.
Borodyanka: About 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Makariv is the town of Borodyanka, which has been held by Russian and Chechen forces since the beginning of the campaign. If the Ukrainians were to take Borodyanka, forward-looking Russian units could be cut off. The battlefield is floating and the Russians were able to reverse the recent losses. But if the Ukrainians hold Makariv and expand their control over the area, Russian positions between the city and Kiev will become vulnerable, further hampering their goal of pushing south beyond the main east-west highway to surround the capital.
Kherson and Mykolaiv: ONE senior U.S. defense official said Ukrainians are fighting to retake the southern city of Kherson, as well as pushing Russian forces from the northeastern part of Mykolaiv, forcing them to move south of the city. The official warned that the United States could not say whether these measures were part of a “major operation plan” by the Ukrainians or not, but called the Ukrainian defense “smart” and “agile”.