Putin Claims it ‘Thwarted’ Ukraine’s Offensive – The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed on Monday that it “thwarted” a major Ukrainian attack at five points along the front in the Donetsk region, and suggested that it was part of Kyiv’s expected counteroffensive.
The Kremlin released a video as evidence that purported to show the destruction of multiple tanks – while it also claimed to have captured 300 troops.
The ministry also claimed via the social messaging platform Telegram that the attack included six mechanized and two tank battalions. Little to no ground was reportedly taken.
“On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scaled offensive in five sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction,” the ministry wrote.
“The enemy’s aim was to break through defenses at what they believe to be the most vulnerable sectors of the frontline, (but the attack) failed to achieve its objectives,” Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov also told state media outlet Tass.
Moscow’s claims have not been independently verified. However, there have been reports for weeks that Russia has been seeking to fortify its defensive positions to blunt any Ukrainian assault.
On Monday, Kyiv responded that its military had no information about a major attack in the region.
“We do not have such information and we do not comment on any kind of fake (information),” a Ukrainian army spokesperson told Reuters.
A major Ukrainian counteroffensive has been expected for weeks, but Kyiv has also said it would not give advance warning when it would start. There has been a notable increase in military activity across the frontlines, and Ukrainian forces have already made marginal gains thanks to the increased numbers of Western-supplied military hardware including German Leopard 2 and British Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs), mobile launchers, and other armored fighting vehicles.
Ukraine’s military has increasingly been transformed from a Soviet-style fighting force to one more closely resembling a NATO unit. Experts have suggested that the Western MBTs could be well-suited to an offensive, especially as the Kremlin has been increasingly forced to rely on Cold War-era equipment dating-back decades.
Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications has also suggested that Moscow would seek to spread misinformation and even disinformation about the state of the war.
“To demoralize Ukrainians and mislead the community (including their own population), Russian propagandists will spread false information about the counteroffensive, its direction, and the losses of the Ukrainian army,” the center stated.
Enjoy the Silence
Ukrainian officials have been warning against public speculation over the offensive, saying it could help the enemy, and on Sunday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released its own video to Telegram.
The footage featured masked and well-armed troops holding their fingers against their lips, and stated, “Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start.”
It may be too early to know if Ukraine’s counteroffensive has truly begun or if this was just a probe of the lines.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.