A Moscow-backed militia leader and Russian military bloggers admitted that Ukrainian forces had made a breakthrough in at least one point in the southwestern part of the Donetsk region, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported on Monday.
Ukrainian 'military gains' in western Donetsk
According to Alexander Khodakovsky, the head of the pro-Moscow Vostok Battalion in Ukraine’s Donbas region, which comprises the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, Ukraine had made “military gains” in the Velykonovosilkivskyi area of western Donetsk.
Khodakovsky said on the Telegram social messaging app: “The enemy is trying to break through. Having grouped their forces into a fist, they were able to achieve tactical success. They took one position from us, but suffered tangible losses. Now the enemy are reinforcing their presence at the point of breakthrough, obviously trying to make further gains.”
According to Khodakovsky, Ukraine’s push did not constitute the anticipated counteroffensive, but if Kyiv’s forces did make a breakthrough, many more soldiers could pour into the breach, The Guardian reported.
Significant Ukrainian attack in Zaporizhzhia province?
Meanwhile, Vladimir Rogov, a senior Moscow-installed official in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia province, reported a significant attack in the region, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Rogov said on Telegram: “The enemy threw even greater forces into the attack than yesterday, attempting a larger-scale breakthrough in an organised manner. The fight is on.”
‘It is just beginning’
Meanwhile, Igor Girkin, a Russian nationalist critic of the Kremlin and former “defence minister” in the Russian-installed authority in the Donetsk region, warned:"It is clear, however, that the enemy has not yet made full use of his main forces."
He added, as quoted by The Guardian: “If the enemy’s offensive has really begun, and is not a ‘test of strength,’ the intensity of the battles will only increase in the coming days. The outcome of the battle is not yet completely predetermined – it is just beginning.”
‘Large-scale’ Ukrainian 'offensive in five sectors of the front'
Russia’s defence ministry on Monday said its forces had repelled attacks by six mechanised battalions and two tank battalions in the Donetsk region, claiming to have killed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, Britain’s The Times newspaper reported.
The Russian defence ministry said in a statement overnight: “On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the south Donetsk direction.”
It added, as quoted by The Times: “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.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials did not comment on these claims, but warned that Russia would “spread false information” about Kyiv’s counteroffensive to undermine morale, The Times reported.
'Limited tactical gains' for Ukraine in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia: ISW
Meanwhile, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank said in its latest report on Sunday night: “Ukrainian forces conducted local ground attacks and reportedly made limited tactical gains in western Donetsk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast.”
According to the US think tank, “geolocated footage posted on June 4 shows that mechanized Ukrainian forces made limited advances northeast of Rivnopil" in the Donetsk region.
Ukrainian forces attacked in the direction of Pryyutne and Makariivka and captured Novodarivka and Neskuchne, Russian military bloggers said.
They also claimed that “Ukrainian forces had broken through the first line of Russian defences and advanced 500 metres to three kilometres in this area,” the ISW said, noting that so far there was “no visual evidence for these reports.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials made no comment and emphasised the need for secrecy about operations as anticipation grows for a major counteroffensive, The Guardian reported.
Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted:
Monday is day 467 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: PAP, The Times, The Guardian, Associated Press, ISW