Russia claims to thwart major Ukrainian offensive in Southern Donetsk

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5th June 2023 – (Moscow) Russia’s defence ministry announced on June 5th that its forces have successfully thwarted a major offensive by Ukrainian troops in southern Donetsk, killing hundreds of pro-Kyiv troops. The reported attack targeted five points along the front, and it remains unclear whether this is the beginning of a Ukrainian counteroffensive aimed at recapturing territory taken by Russian troops after the invasion of February 2022. Reuters was unable to verify the Russian statement, and the Ukrainian defence ministry and military did not immediately respond to written requests for comment.

The Russian defence ministry said that Ukraine had launched the attack with six mechanised and two tank battalions in southern Donetsk, an area where Moscow has long suspected Ukraine of seeking to drive a wedge through Russian-controlled territory. The ministry posted a statement on Telegram at 1.30am Moscow time (2230 GMT) saying, “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 enemy’s goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front. The enemy did not achieve its tasks; it had no success.”

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted a cryptic message on 4th June quoting Depeche Mode‘s track “Enjoy the Silence,” saying, “Words are very unnecessary. They can only do harm.” Meanwhile, Kyiv urged “silence” ahead of its long-awaited counteroffensive.

Last week, Ukraine published a flashy video depicting troops preparing for battle and reciting a rousing blessing, which was later aired as a recruiting clip. Russia’s defence ministry released a video showing what it said was several Ukrainian armoured vehicles in a field blowing up after being hit.