Ukraine and Russia have fought intense battles since June, when Kyiv launched a counteroffensive buoyed by billions of dollars in military aid from NATO allies, but relatively little ground has changed hands.
Here’s a look at the state of the battlefield.
The main thrust of Kyiv’s counteroffensive is taking place in southern Ukraine in the western half of the Zaporizhzhia region. Ukraine took the village of Robotyne last month after weeks of combat. There have since been reports of other small advances. Ukraine needs to push through miles of territory and minefields before it reaches the fortified city of Tokmak, some 15 miles southwest of Robotyne. After that, Ukraine’s next objective in that part of the front line could be the city of Melitopol, which is around 31 miles from Tokmak.
In eastern Ukraine, Ukraine’s military said this month it had retaken the tiny villages of Klishchiivka and Andriivka, just south of the Russian-controlled city of Bakhmut. Putting pressure on Russian forces in the city, which fell in May after one of the war’s bloodiest battles, is one apparent goal of the counteroffensive. Some U.S. intelligence and military officials said in August they were perplexed by Kyiv’s focus on Bakhmut, a position rejected by Ukraine.
There has been heavy fighting on other sectors in Donetsk province. Close to the regional capital, Donetsk, Russian forces have conducted ground attacks near Marinka and Adviivka, but have been repelled, according to Ukraine’s military. Moscow has targeted the towns since the first days of its full-scale invasion 19 months ago.
For its part, Ukrainian forces have pushed south since June from a front line close to the town of Velyka Novosilka. In August, they took the village of Urozhaine.
In the northeast of Ukraine, Moscow has seized a small amount of territory since the summer in fighting for villages east of the small city of Kupiansk, the only sector in which Russia has made a concerted recent effort to advance. Military experts say the attacks are likely partly aimed at forcing Ukraine to divert troops from its main counteroffensive thrust.
Last November, Ukraine retook the southern city of Kherson, forcing Moscow to retreat to the eastern side of the Dnipro River. Since then, Ukraine has launched a series of raids along the river’s eastern bank amid fighting for the river’s islands. Russia for its part has shelled the river’s western bank repeatedly. In June, the destruction of the river’s Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in an explosion likely caused by Russian forces, caused environmental devastation.
Black Sea and Crimea
The Black Sea has become a vital theater of conflict. Ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have launched deadly missile strikes on towns and cities across Ukraine, and Kyiv has increasingly been using drones and missiles to try to undercut Moscow’s naval dominance. Since August, Ukraine has damaged a Russian warship in a drone strike and hit Moscow’s naval headquarters in occupied Crimea.
Ukraine has also repeatedly attacked the bridge that joins Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which it illegally annexed in 2014. Moscow for its part has targeted Ukraine’s ports on the Danube River and the Black Sea, including Odesa, crippling its ability to ship grain.