Conflict in Ukraine: Russia Claims to Have Stopped a Significant Ukrainian Offensive

Moscow’s defense ministry issued a statement early Monday morning claiming responsibility for the deaths of 250 Ukrainian servicemen and the destruction of tanks.

Russia claims to have stopped a major Ukrainian offensive in Donetsk’s eastern region, but it’s unclear if this marks the beginning of a long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Conflict in Ukraine: Russia claims to have stopped a significant Ukrainian offensive
Conflict in Ukraine: Russia claims to have stopped a significant Ukrainian offensive

On Sunday, one of the four Ukrainian districts Russia illegally invaded last fall, southern Donetsk, was the target of a “large-scale” Ukrainian assault, according to a video published by the Russian Ministry of Defense in the early morning hours.

According to Igor Konashenkov, the ministry’s spokesman, “the enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front.” The opponent was unable to complete its objectives. It was a failure.

Approximately 250 Ukrainians were killed, according to Konashenkov, while 16 tanks, 3 IAVs, and 21 AVs were destroyed.

When can we expect a counterattack from the Ukrainians?

Officials in Ukraine have been talking for months about mounting a counteroffensive this spring to retake the area Russia has controlled since starting a full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014.

They have sent inconsistent messages about whether a counteroffensive would involve early, limited operations to undermine Russian forces and military facilities or a full-fledged, simultaneous assault across the entire 1,100 km front line.

The topic of military preparation was off-limits, according to a social media campaign that went live on Sunday.

The Ukrainian military soldiers in the video clip were seen placing their fingers over their mouths while the words “Plans love silence” were spoken over the top. In Ukrainian, the caption stated, “There will be no announcement about the start.”

The counteroffensive has been delayed for at least two reasons: waiting for better ground conditions for troop and equipment mobility after winter and deploying more advanced Western weapons, and training Ukrainian soldiers to use them.

A Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman claimed that Ukraine had utilized six mechanized and two tank battalions in the offensive and a video purporting to show the destruction of part of the equipment in a field.

General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, “was at one of the forward command posts,” the spokesperson added, in a rare acknowledgment of the presence of Russia’s senior military officers in battlefield operations.

The announcement of Gerasimov’s direct involvement may be a response to criticism from Russian military bloggers and mercenary group head Yevgeny Prigozhin that Russia’s military brass hasn’t been visible enough at the front or taken sufficient control or responsibility for their country’s military operations in Ukraine.

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