Ukraine war: Russia says it has repelled a major offensive in Ukraine

  • By George Wright in London & James Waterhouse in Kiev
  • BBC News

image source, Good pictures

image caption,

Ukraine has been planning a counterattack for months

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it has repelled a major offensive by Ukraine in Donetsk, saying it killed 250 troops and destroyed 16 armored vehicles.

The video, which Russia says is a war, appears to show military vehicles entering fields under heavy fire.

Russia’s claim has not been independently verified.

On Monday, Ukraine’s military said it had no information about a major offensive in the region.

“We do not have such information and we do not comment on any kind of fakes,” a Ukrainian military spokesman told Reuters.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive had been long-awaited, but Kiev had previously said it could not forewarn its launch.

Ukraine launched a “large-scale offensive” using six mechanized and two tank battalions in the Donetsk region on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Ukrainians tried to break through Russian defences, which Kiev saw as the most vulnerable part of the front line – but it “did not achieve its tasks, it did not succeed”, it said.

image source, Ukrainian Armed Forces press service

image caption,

A video released by the Ukrainian military shows what appears to be a military vehicle in the direction of Pakmut

If the footage of armored vehicles coming under heavy fire is real, it reflects the fierce resistance Ukrainian forces will face as they try to liberate more territory.

There has been a significant increase in Ukrainian news on when and how their much-anticipated counter-offensive might take shape.

Ukraine has been planning a counterattack for months. But it wanted as much time as possible to train troops and acquire military equipment from Western allies.

Officials in Kiev have warned against public speculation about the attack, saying it could help the enemy.

In a video posted to Telegram on Sunday, the Defense Ministry said, “The plans are peaceful. There will be no announcement at the start. Footage showed masked and armed troops holding their fingers to their lips.

It will take time for Ukraine to achieve its goal of liberating territory captured by Russia nine years ago.

Moscow had time to prepare. If Ukraine can mount a counterattack, it will take some time.

The government in Kiev has much at stake as it must show the people of Ukraine — and its Western allies — that it can break through Russian lines, end the effective military stalemate, and recapture some of its sovereign territory.

Oleksandr Chirsky, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said troops were “moving forward” towards Bagmut and had destroyed Russian positions near the city.

The claim was made by the Liberty of Russia Legion (FRL), which described the announcement as a joint statement with the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK).

Both groups want to topple President Vladimir Putin. They oppose the full-scale invasion of Ukraine that he launched in February last year.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for recent attacks on its border areas, but Kiev has not been directly contacted.

An energy plant caught fire following a drone attack on Monday morning, officials in Belgorod said.

Governor Vladislav Shabsha said two drones fell on a major road in Russia’s Kaluga region – bordering southern districts around Moscow. Mr Shabsha said there was no explosion and the area has now been cordoned off.

There is no independent confirmation of any attack, but Moscow says the Belgorod region is a regular target for drone strikes from Ukraine.

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