It has been nearly nine months in the planning, but reports that Ukraine has finally launched its military counter-offensive to liberate territory under Russian control suggest the conflict has now reached a critical juncture.
While reports from the battlefield vary as to the extent of Ukraine’s long-awaited offensive to liberate territory in eastern Ukraine, there has been a noticeable upsurge in activity, with the Ukrainians achieving mixed results.
While the Russians have acknowledged that Ukraine has made gains around the hotly-contested city of Bakhmut to the east, they also claim to have thwarted a major Ukrainian attack further south, with the Russian defence ministry claiming it repulsed a major Ukrainian offensive in the southern region of Donetsk on Sunday, resulting in “hundreds” of pro-Kyiv troop casualties.
Russian officials said the Ukrainian offensive had involved six mechanised and two tank battalions, and that it had resulted in the loss of 250 Ukrainian troops, as well as the destruction of 16 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and 21 armoured combat vehicles.
“The enemy's goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front,” the Russian defence ministry said.
At a time when both sides are seeking to claim the advantage in the propaganda war, it is entirely feasible that the Russians are deliberately exaggerating Ukrainian losses to damage morale among Ukrainian troops. On their part, the Ukrainians have played down claims that the offensive even took place.
Offensive well underway
Even so, the recent upsurge in military activity has led many leading military analysts to conclude that Ukraine’s long-awaited offensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russia is now well underway, an offensive that could ultimately decide the outcome of the war.