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A view of a residential building destroyed by Russian bombardment in Makariv on March 16. (Mohammad Javad Abjoushak/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces have in recent days attempted to retake territory from the Russians, according to a senior US defense official, who described them as “able and willing” to do so.

Here is the situation on the ground:

Counter-attacks near the capital: A Ukrainian counterattack north and west of kyiv appears to have made progress, compromising Russian efforts to encircle the capital and threatening the ability of Russian forces to resupply exposed forward units north of the city.

Makariv: One of these areas is Makariv, a strategic town 48 kilometers west of kyiv. After days of fighting, Ukrainian forces have regained control of the city, the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced in a Facebook post on Tuesday. CNN could not confirm the request. Makariv had suffered significant damage from ongoing Russian airstrikes, with video showing widespread devastation. If Ukrainian forces consolidated their control of Makariv, it would become more difficult for Russian forces to secure the western approaches to kyiv and then push further south.

North of Kyiv: There are also indications that Russian forces have suffered setbacks north of kyiv in areas they have occupied almost since the start of the invasion. A brief geotagged video by CNN showed Ukrainian troops marching through the town of Moschun, about 35 kilometers north of the capital. Geotagged Ukrainian drone video over the weekend showed the destruction of Russian armor in the same area.

Flooding of the Irpin River: Satellite images from Monday showed increasing flooding of the Irpin River. CNN previously reported that a dam along the Dnieper was flooding the Irpin River basin and its tributaries. The river is essential to the Russian advance towards kyiv; if the Russians cannot cross it, they cannot take kyiv from the west. It is unclear how the dam began to overflow: whether the gates were opened on purpose by the Ukrainians or whether it was hit by a military strike.

Borodyanka: About 20 kilometers north of Makariv is the town of Borodyanka, which has been held by Russian and Chechen forces since the start of the campaign. If the Ukrainians were to take Borodyanka, Russian forward units could be cut off. The battlefield is fluid and the Russians could undo recent losses. But if the Ukrainians hold Makariv and expand their control over the region, Russian positions between the city and Kyiv would become vulnerable, further hampering their aim to push south past the main east-west highway to encircle the capital. .

Kherson and Mykolaiv: A A senior US defense official said the Ukrainians were fighting to retake the southern city of Kherson, as well as push back Russian forces from northeast Mykolaiv, forcing them to reposition south of the city. The official warned that the United States cannot say whether these moves are part of a “wider operational plan” of the Ukrainians or not, but described the Ukrainian defense as “nimble” and “nimble”.

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