Russia claims to have thwarted large-scale Ukrainian attack
June 5, 2023 - Moscow said on Monday it had thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive in the Donetsk region but Russia’s main mercenary leader said Russian forces had lost ground in Bakhmut.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the attacks represented the start of a Ukrainian counteroffensive which Kyiv has been promising for months to drive out Russian forces after the invasion of February 2022.
Russia’s defence ministry said Ukraine had attacked on Sunday morning with six mechanised and two tank battalions in southern Donetsk, where Moscow has long suspected Ukraine would seek to drive a wedge through Russian-controlled territory.
The ministry said Russian forces killed 250 Ukrainian troops as well as destroying 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armoured combat vehicles. Reuters was not able to verify the figures. Both sides have exaggerated casualties suffered by the other.
Further north, near the long-contested city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces were reported to have been “moving forward” by the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi.
An armed forces video showed Russian positions under fire and Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Ukrainian forces had retaken part of the settlement of Berkhivka, north of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, calling it a “disgrace”, according to Reuters.