Battles are raging across Ukraine’s front lines, which suggest Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive is finally underway.
Although staying decidedly quiet until now, Kyiv military sources have confirmed Ukrainian forces are shifting to “offensive actions”, particularly around the battered eastern city of Bakhmut.
For months, Ukraine has steadily been gearing up for an expected counter-offensive by training troops, requesting and amassing weapons and remaining silent on its future plans.
A foreboding video, released over the weekend by Ukraine, showed soldiers across the front line raising a finger to their lips.
“Plans love silence. There will be no start announcement,” it said as warplanes soared triumphantly.
Now that onslaught, particularly concentrated in south east, has begun according to Ukrainian military sources.
Moscow had first announced Kyiv’s military offensives on Sunday, including a “large-scale offensive” in Donetsk, but claimed to have successfully thwarted their attack.
But some pro-Kremlin military bloggers painted a different picture, acknowledging that Ukraine’s troops had made some quick gains.
Kremlin propagandist Semyon Pegov – also known as Wargonzo – said the situation is becoming “more and more alarming every hour”.
In Novodonetske, local reports suggest Ukraine’s troops have advanced 5 to 6km as officials claim “fierce battles” for the settlement are ongoing.
Ukrainian military sources confirmed to the BBC that a series of small armoured offensive operations are underway.
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, General Oleksandr Syrskyi also reiterated that his troops were “moving forward” towards Bakhmut.
President Volodomyr Zelensky praised his forces in the region for delivering “the news we were expecting”.
Russian troops on Monday were reported to be fleeing the battered eastern city after a fierce Ukrainian counter-attack seized a town on its northern and southern flank.
Incredible footage shows a wave of Ukrainian soldiers climbing out of trenches and advancing on Russian positions in a World War One-style assault.
Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, admitted Ukrainian forces had managed to retake Berkhivka and blasted their victory as a “disgrace” to Russia.
In the furious tirade, Prigozhin said: “The [Russian] troops are quietly running away.”
He urged Putin’s top military chiefs to go to the front line and see the failure for themselves, only 16 days after the warlord claimed his mercenaries had finally captured Bakhmut.
Russia’s defense ministry had claimed that Ukraine launched its offensive on Sunday with six mechanised and two tank battalions in southern Donetsk – one of four Ukrainian areas Russia annexed in September.
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