Russian defence ministry on Sunday claimed that their forces thwarted large Ukrainian attacks in two provinces of Ukraine illegally annexed by Moscow-- a claim rejected by Kyiv. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a rare early morning video released Monday that its forces pushed back a “large scale” assault Sunday at five points in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province, one of four regions that President Vladimir Putin claimed as Russian territory last fall but is only partially controlled by Moscow.
“The enemy’s goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. “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 armoured combat vehicles were destroyed.
Ukraine says "Enjoy the silence"
On the other hand, the Ukrainian military suggested the Russian reports were part of a misinformation campaign as Kyiv prepares for an anticipated counteroffensive. Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov replied to Russia by posting a cryptic message on Twitter, "Enjoy the Silence".
“A battle is underway": Russia
Vladimir Rogov, a Moscow-installed official in southeast Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province. said Sunday that Kyiv’s forces also attempted to breach Russian defences there but were repelled after advancing 400 meters (less than a quarter-mile) into Russian-occupied territory. Active hostilities resumed early Monday, Rogov said, adding that “the enemy threw an even bigger force into the attack than yesterday.” The new attempt to break through the front line was “more large-scale and organized,” he said, adding: “A battle is underway.”
Ukrainian officials did not confirm the attacks. The Center for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram that Russian forces were “stepping up their information and psychological operations.” “In order to demoralize Ukrainians and mislead the community (including their own population), Russian propagandists will spread false information about the counteroffensive, its directions and the losses of the Ukrainian army. Even if there is no counteroffensive,” a statement on Telegram read.
Ukraine often waits until the completion of its military operations to confirm its actions, imposing news blackouts in the interim. The Russian Defense Ministry said the alleged Donetsk attack started Sunday morning, and it was unclear why it waited until Monday to announce it. For months, Ukrainian officials have spoken of plans to launch a spring counteroffensive to reclaim territory Russia has occupied since invading the country on Feb. 24, 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized in 2014.
But they’ve given confusing signals about whether preliminary, limited attacks to weaken Russian forces and military facilities would mark the start of the campaign or only a full-fledged simultaneous assault across the entire 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) front line.
(With inputs from agency)