Russian forces have thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Donetsk and killed hundreds of pro-Kyiv troops, the Russian defence ministry said early on Monday.
In a statement, the ministry said Ukraine had launched the offensive on Sunday using six mechanised and two tank battalions. “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 ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
Reuters was unable to immediately verify the Russian statement. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. It was unclear whether the attack represented the formal start of a long-expected Ukrainian counteroffensive to recapture some of the territory taken by Russian forces after the invasion of February 2022.
“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.” On Sunday, Kyiv urged “silence” ahead of the long-expected counteroffensive to reclaim territory that Russia has taken control over in the 15-month long war its been waging on its neighbour.
Russian forces killed 250 Ukrainian troops as well as destroying 16 tanks, the infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armoured combat vehicles, the ministry said. Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who’s in charge of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, was in the area of the Ukrainian attack, the ministry said.
“(Gerasimov) was at one of the advanced command posts,” the ministry said. In a video posted on the ministry’s Telegram channel, several military vehicles across a wide swath of land are being attacked from the air. (Writing by Lidia Kelly and David Ljunggren; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)
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