Russia says it thwarted a large Ukrainian attack in the eastern province of Donetsk, though it’s unclear if this was the start of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Russian Defense Ministry, in a rare early morning video Monday, said its forces pushed back a large scale Ukrainian assault on Sunday at five points in Donetsk, one of four Ukrainian regions Russia illegally annexed last fall.
The enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front, said the ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov. The enemy did not achieve its tasks. It had no success.
Konashenkov said 250 Ukrainian personnel were killed, and 16 Ukrainian tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armored combat vehicles were destroyed.
For months, Ukrainian officials have spoken of plans to launch a counteroffensive to reclaim territory Russia has occupied since invading Feb. 24, 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula it seized in 2014.
But they’ve given confusing signals about what would constitute a counteroffensive preliminary, limited attacks to weaken Russian forces and military facilities or a full-fledged simultaneous assault across the entire 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) front line.
Ukraine didn’t comment, and often waits until the completion of its military operations to confirm its actions, imposing news blackouts in the interim.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Ukraine used six mechanized and two tank battalions in the attack.
And in a rare specific mention of the presence of Russia’s top military leaders in battlefield operations, the spokesman said the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, was at one of the forward command posts.
That could be a response to criticism by some Russian military bloggers and mercenary group head Yevgeny Prigozhin that Russia’s military brass hasn’t been visible enough at the front or taken sufficient control or responsibility for their country’s military operations in Ukraine.