JAKARTA - Ukraine announced on Monday it had driven Russian troops out of eight villages in a two-week counter-offensive, while a defense official said Kyiv had taken the "biggest blow", despite resistance from Moscow forces.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian troops had recaptured Piatykhatky, a settlement on a heavily fortified section of the front line near the most direct route to the country's Sea of ​​Azov coast.

This was part of Kyiv's advance of up to seven km (4.3 mi) to the Russian lines in two weeks, capturing an area of ​​113 square km (44 sq mi).

"The enemy will not easily surrender their positions, and we must prepare ourselves for a difficult duel," Maliar said on the messaging app Telegram, citing Reuters, June 20.

"The military is moving as it should. And the biggest blow is yet to come," he continued.

He added that the heaviest fighting took place in eastern and southern Ukraine. Separately, he said the Ukrainian military was preventing Russian advances in the east where it is concentrating its units, including air strike troops.

Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening video address that the Kyiv military was advancing in some sectors and withstood intensive attacks in others. But the net result was favorable for Ukraine, he said.

"We did not lose positions, only those who were freed. And they suffered defeat," said President Zelensky.

It is understood the reported seizure of villages reflects the incremental nature of the gains so far for Ukraine in line with the reinforcements Moscow has been pursuing for months. For example Piatykhatky, an important village because it is located about 90 km from the coast.

Ukraine has acknowledged the offensive along parts of its 1.000km front in a long-planned counteroffensive to retake 18 percent of its territory occupied by Russia, but carefully controls information for security reasons. Analysts say the main phase of the counteroffensive has yet to start.

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