Earlier this month, Ukraine implemented its counteroffensive against Russia, which the country has been planning for a while.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country has regained several villages along its eastern border — although he didn’t specify how many — which were previously occupied by Russia.

“The battles are fierce, but we are moving forward, and this is very important,” he said in a tweet. “The enemy’s losses are exactly what we need. Although the weather is unfavorable these days — the rains make our task more difficult — the strength of our warriors still yields results.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was the first to say that seven villages were successfully recovered by Ukraine, USA Today reported on Monday. Those seven villages included Orikhiv, Velyka Novosilka, Marinka and Backhmut, per The Washington Post.

Stoltenberg cautioned that the counteroffensive would continue to be “bloody.”

“We need to be prepared that this offensive will be bloody and difficult,” Stoltenberg told USA Today. “The Russians have had time to build — they’re quite heavy defensive lines, and to breach them is a demanding task.”

This proved true, as Russia fought back with “assault and army aviation,” along with “intense artillery fire,” said Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, especially early on in the offensive, reported the Post.

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At the beginning of the counteroffensive on June 5, a small group of less than 50 troops pushed into Russian-occupied territory just south of Velyka Novosilka, reported the Post. Only 20 came back, including a soldier and survivor who said the group was “shelled with mortars from three sides” within the first hour.

This week, Russian forces pushed back in an effort to regain the village of Makarivka, which had been declared as recovered by Ukraine on Monday, per Reuters, leaving the village in ruins.

Russian President Vladamir Putin claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has been unsuccessful so far, with Ukrainian losses 10 times greater than Russia’s, reported the BBC. Without evidence, his remarks couldn’t be confirmed or denied.

However, it is believed that both countries have experienced substantial losses since the beginning of the counteroffensive, per Reuters.

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