Ukraine’s military, staggered in the early days of the war by the brutal fury of Russia’s invasion, has gained footing and begun the arduous task of taking back territory overrun by Russia’s initial onslaught.

A senior Pentagon official this week described Ukrainian resistance as quick and nimble, and, for the first time, seeking to retake lost ground. Russian forces remain largely stalled around the capital of Kyiv, said the official who described intelligence assessments to reporters on condition of anonymity.

The Ukraine Defense Ministry claims its forces have driven occupying Russian troops out of Makariv – a small Kyiv suburb but crucial because it provides control of a highway to the west. The effort also blocked Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest and provided the Ukrainian military with a much-needed success story.

LATEST MOVEMENTS:Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

NEWS COMES TO YOU:The latest updates on the situation in Ukraine. Sign up here.

An assessment released Wednesday by the British Defense Ministry described the battlefield across northern Ukraine as “largely static.”  Russian forces are likely reorganizing before resuming large-scale offensive operations, the ministry said in a tweet Wednesday.

In the south, Ukraine’s effort to keep battered Mariupol out of Russian hands has thwarted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aim of opening up another permanent land link from the Crimean peninsula to Russia.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in daily speeches to his nation and occasional addresses to foreign lawmakers, rallies Ukrainians to fight on. But he is also lobbying for direct talks with Putin to end the carnage.

“We will find a way to push Russia to agree to a peaceful solution,” Zelenskyy said Thursday in a virtual address to Japanese lawmakers.

Zelenskyy continues to plead with the West for help, specifically for the establishment of a “no-fly” zone over his country. The U.S. have responded with a firm no, but President Joe Biden embarks Wednesday on a multi-day trip to Europe starting Wednesday to meet with allies about the ongoing response to Russia’s invasion, including military assistance for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said Biden is working on long-term efforts to boost defenses in Eastern Europe and reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian energy.

Latest developments

►Dancers who have fled Ukraine – and Russia – because of the war have found a temporary home in Berlin’s top ballet company, State Ballet, which helps with practice space, housing and even shoes.

►Putin aide Anatoly Chubais resigned, left the country and has no intention of returning, according to multiple media outlets. Chubais is the highest-profile figure to step down since the war began, Reuters reports.