By: Jonathan Mason-June 5th, 2023
Several international media sources are reporting that Russia’s defence ministry says it has repelled a major Ukrainian attack in Donetsk, in the latest sign that a widely expected counter-offensive may have started in the Eastern part of Ukraine.
Video of what Russia says is the battle shows military vehicles under heavy fire in fields. Russia claims it killed 300 Ukrainian troops and destroyed 16 tanks.
However Moscow’s claims have not been independently verified and on Monday, Ukraine’s military said it had no information about a major attack in the region.
“We do not have such information and we do not comment on any kind of fake,” a Ukrainian army spokesperson told Reuters.
A major Ukrainian counter-offensive has been long awaited but Kyiv has already said it would not give advance warning of its start.
The Russian defence ministry said Ukraine had launched the “large-scale offensive” in the Donetsk region on Sunday using six mechanised and two tank battalions.
It claimed the Ukrainians tried to break through Russian defences in what Kyiv saw as the most vulnerable part of the front line – but that it “did not achieve its tasks, it had no success”.
If the footage of armoured vehicles coming under heavy fire is authentic, then it reflects the stiff resistance Ukrainian forces will face as they try to liberate more territory.
And if it is not what it seems, it is still an attempt by Moscow to take control of the narrative.
Officials in Kyiv have warned against public speculation over the offensive, saying it could help the enemy.
“Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start,” the defence ministry said in a video posted to Telegram on Sunday. Its footage featured masked and well-armed troops holding their fingers against their lips.