ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — After a week of giving ground to the Ukrainian army in the opening phase of Kyiv’s counteroffensive, Russian forces on Tuesday retook an area where Ukraine had earlier announced it had recaptured several villages.
The Russians attacked with aviation and artillery barrages, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military said. One village at the center of the battle, Makarivka, was destroyed throughout the day.
The Russian attack came after thunderstorms in southern Ukraine, which muddied the terrain and complicated operations for both armies. Ukraine is in the early stages of a counter-offensive operation to regain territory seized by Russia in the south of the country.
After announcing it had recaptured a series of farming villages over the weekend, Ukraine’s military said Tuesday it had made little progress as its forces continued to probe Russian defenses and repel a Russian offensive. in the village of Makarivka.
Ukraine has pushed into at least two locations in southern Ukraine, but there are no indications that it has breached Russia’s thick defenses, which include minefields, trenches for infantry and concrete barriers to stop tanks.
As Ukrainian troops advance, they abandon their own defensive trenches and move away from the protection of air defense systems. While shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles can be quickly moved to new positions, Ukrainian troops cannot easily move more sophisticated vehicle-mounted systems, lest they be at risk from Russian artillery. This leaves advancing troops more open to Russian air attacks, as the Russian counterstrike at Makarivka suggests.
The slow fighting is in line with what military analysts have suggested should be expected at the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. As Ukraine looks for a place to drive a wedge into Russian-held territory in the southeast, it has yet to deploy most of the forces trained and equipped by Western allies for the counteroffensive.
Russia built multiple lines of fortifications on the plains where Ukraine was attacking and heavily mined the ground to slow down Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles.
On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry published a video purporting to show its forces retrieving an unspecified number of Bradley and German-made Leopard tanks left behind by Ukrainian forces fighting in Zaporizhzhia, adding : “Now these are our trophies.” The date of the video recording could not be immediately confirmed.
At least nine American-made Bradley fighting vehicles were abandoned by Ukrainian troops or destroyed in the first days of the counteroffensive, according to videos and photos posted by pro-Russian bloggers who -verified by The New York Times.
The military analysis site Oryx, which visually confirms and records equipment losses, recorded an additional seven Bradley and four Leopard tanks abandoned or destroyed in the region during that period, as well as Leopard mines- Finnish-made clearing tank.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military’s general staff, Andriy Kovalev, said in a television broadcast on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces had advanced about 500 to 1,000 yards in some locations in the south, although he did not specify where.
A spokesman for the military in the south, Valeriy Shershen, posted on Facebook an account of the Russian attack on Makarivka.
After Ukrainian troops moved into the village, he said, Russia counterattacked with aviation and tried to fire a barrage from one of Russia’s most powerful conventional weapons, a tracked vehicle called the Sunstroke, which fires thermobaric rockets that explode very loudly. It is unclear whether the weapon was fired or simply brought into position to do so.
said Mr. Shershen said Ukrainian marines were still in the village as of Tuesday afternoon.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in southern Ukraine, said on the Telegram app on Tuesday that Russian helicopters targeted Ukrainian soldiers in the same area, near the town of Velyka Novosilka, in the Donetsk region. where the Ukraine attack began last week .
“Our counter-attacks began at night,” Mr. Rogov wrote.
Pro-war Russian bloggers, who often provide accounts of the fighting faster than official Russian announcements, also said Monday that Russia had launched counterattacks in the same area.
Maria Varenikova contributed reporting.