According to Russian President Putin, Ukraine’s counter-offensive has begun. Kiev leaves the statement uncommented – but Ukrainian President Zelenskyj speaks of “particularly tough fighting”.
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has been going on for more than 15 months. The Russian troops were able to conquer areas in the east and south-east of the country in particular and take control of cities such as Luhansk, Donetsk and, according to them, the heavily contested Bakhmut.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the long-announced Ukrainian counter-offensive has now begun. “We can definitely say that this Ukrainian offensive has started,” Putin said in an interview with a reporter from Russian state television, published on Telegram.
Previously, some international media, citing Ukrainian military representatives, had suspected that the operation to liberate areas occupied by Russia had been going on for a few days.
“Intense fighting” for several days
Putin stressed that “intense fighting” had been going on for five days. However, he also emphasized that the Ukrainian troops had not been successful with their advances so far. The President’s statements cannot be independently checked.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu also said on Thursday that his own troops had pushed back an attempted Ukraine advance in the southern Zaporizhia region during the night. The Ukrainian military tried to advance with 1,500 soldiers and 150 armored vehicles. The enemy was stopped, however, and there were heavy losses on the Ukrainian side.
Selenskyj thanks Soldiers
Shortly after Putin’s comments on the supposed start of the counter-offensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke up in his daily video address. He did not contradict the claims of the Russian President, but did not confirm them either. Zelenskyy praised his armed forces for their “heroism”. “For our soldiers, for everyone who is in particularly hard fighting these days. We see your heroism and we are grateful to you for every minute of your lives.”
In his speech, Zelenskyi did not mention any details about developments at the front. However, he did hold a meeting with the Stavka, the high command of Ukraine. The focus of the Ukrainian soldiers is on “all the places where our actions are needed and the enemy could suffer certain losses. Officials in Ukraine recently said that the armed forces were ready for the expected counter-offensive – but there was no formal announcement of it give start.
Media, reports and assumptions
Several Western military experts have already suggested that the Ukrainian army’s offensive is already underway. The US think tank Institute for the Study of War, for example, announced that several indicators pointed to this. The “New York Times” also reported, citing three high-ranking US government officials, that the counter-offensive is already underway. Previously, the broadcaster NBC News, citing unnamed military officials, reported that the offensive had begun.
The Ukrainian military dismissed the media reports on Thursday. “We have no such information,” said a spokesman for the Ukrainian general staff. No position is taken on information based on anonymous sources.
At the same time, there have been reports of several Ukrainian attacks in the border regions of the Russian occupation zone in the past few days. In the southern region of Donetsk and in the Zaporizhia region, Ukrainian forces “continued to attempt an offensive,” but were decisively repulsed by “armed forces, air force and artillery,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
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