Kyiv’s forces have started their long-awaited counteroffensive to recapture occupied territory, according to Russian sources on social and state media.
Andrey Rudenko, a correspondent for Russian state television channel Rossiya 24, said that Ukraine had launched a tank offensive in the direction of Zaporozhzhia that was repelled by Russian troops. He added that Ukraine had “many seriously wounded troops lying on the battlefield.”
Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russia-backed administration of the partly occupied oblast, told the Solovyov Live programme: “In my opinion, there has been an attempt at a full-scale offensive for three days, even four” in the Zaporizhzhia region.
He said that overnight on Wednesday Ukrainian forces had probably used U.S-supplied HIMARS systems to open fire on the city Tokmak, the Tass news agency reported.
Russian sources on Telegram also noted there had been an increase in fire and assault positions in the Zaporizhzhia direction, with Ukrainian tanks attacking Moscow’s positions and reports of non-stop shelling, according to the Twitter account of War Translated.
Another milblogger said: “We can already talk about the beginning of the offensive announced by Ukraine for so long.”
Russian state media war correspondent Alexander Sladkov wrote on Telegram on Thursday that it was difficult for Ukrainian soldiers to accept the signal to attack “with the knowledge that there are mines ahead, impregnable trenches” as well as Russian soldiers “who are not going to retreat.”
The Russian Storm Z unit with the call sign Ali told Tass that Ukrainian forces had tried an advance on the village of Lobkove with at least at least 20 military vehicles and 100 infantry, but were “driven back” and suffered losses.
Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian defense ministry about the Russian claims. On Wednesday, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, said Moscow’s claims that the counteroffensive had started were “not true.”
Danilov said Russian officials had mistaken Ukrainian advances in some frontline areas for the start of the larger operation and that when Ukraine does launch its push, “everyone will know about it.”
Following the pledges of military support from the West, much is riding on the counteroffensive, although Kyiv is playing its cards close to its chest about the push.
Former Australian army general Mick Ryan said in a Substack post on Thursday that the Ukrainian operations being undertaken around Bakhmut and in southern Ukraine “appear to confirm that H-Hour for the 2023 Ukrainian offensive has probably arrived.”
In comments emailed to Newsweek, Atlantic Council fellow and a former Ukrainian defense minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, said early actions by Ukrainian forces have centred on Bakhmut, which Russia has claimed control over.
Zagorodnyuk said that Ukraine encircling the Donetsk city would “deny the Russians an opportunity to use any benefits of capturing the territory, and set themselves up to eventually recapture it.”
When Kyiv’s counteroffensive starts, Zagorodnyuk said: “We will see a full use of the brigades trained and equipped for that operation and, of course, the magnitude of the operational activities will be much higher.”
The post Ukraine Launches ‘Full Scale Offensive’ in Zaporizhzhia appeared first on Newsweek.