In the Ukrainian region of Donetsk, Russia claims its forces stopped a major Ukrainian onslaught, killing 250 Ukraine soldiers and damaging tanks and armoured vehicles.
“On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction,” the Russian defence ministry said on its Telegram channel early on Monday.
On the alleged offensive, Ukraine provided no updates. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Moscow was concentrating its military operations on the complete capture of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in its evening briefing on June 4.
Along with Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson, Donetsk is one of the four Ukrainian regions that Russia occupied in September.
“During the day, the occupiers made 23 attacks, but all of them were repulsed by units of the defence forces,” it said.
Instantaneous confirmation of the Russian or Ukrainian allegations was not feasible.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, Ukraine used six mechanised and two tank battalions to start the offensive.
“The enemy’s goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front,” the defence ministry said. “The enemy did not achieve its tasks, it had no success.”
Since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula it captured in 2014, Ukraine has been planning for a counteroffensive to reclaim the land it has been occupied.
However, it has sent conflicting messages as to what the counteroffensive would entail—limited, preparatory operations to degrade Russian military capabilities or a massive, simultaneous assault over the whole 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) front line.
Russia said its forces killed 250 Ukraine soldiers and also destroyed 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armoured combat vehicles.
According to the ministry, Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian general staff, “was at one of the forward command posts” at the time.
In his nightly video message on Sunday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made no mention of the alleged attack. He made it clear that Kyiv was prepared to take action.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has tried to undermine Russian positions. A top official claimed late last month that the initial actions, such as cutting off supply lines and blowing up depots, had already started.
In the early hours of Monday, a drone strike set a power plant in the Russian province of Belgorod on fire, the region’s governor Vyacheslav Gladkov also reported more attacks by armed pro-Ukrainian, anti-Kremlin Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion groups.
The fighters said to have captured Russian personnel as well and would deliver them to Ukraine.
The Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, has recently seen repeated bombardment.
Attacks in the border region, according to Pavel Felgengauer, a Russian defence analyst, are a means to get Moscow to evacuate more troops from the front lines.
“Ukrainians hope that Russia will remove reinforcement … maybe the Wagner storm troops will be moved to Belgorod meaning that they will be removed away from the south, where most likely the real fighting is going to take place in the coming weeks or couple of months,” said Felgengauer.
“These small troops cannot really achieve a strategic objective by their raids, their only real objective is to pester the Russian and to make them reinforce forces in Belgorod at the expenses of other places,” he added.
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SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES