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Russia: Ukraine Launching Major Attacks06/05 06:04

   Moscow officials claimed that Ukrainian forces were making a major effort to 
punch through Russian defensive lines in southeast Ukraine for a second day 
Monday. Kyiv authorities didn't confirm the attacks and suggested the claim was 
a Russian misinformation ruse.

   KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Moscow officials claimed that Ukrainian forces were 
making a major effort to punch through Russian defensive lines in southeast 
Ukraine for a second day Monday. Kyiv authorities didn't confirm the attacks 
and suggested the claim was a Russian misinformation ruse.

   Vladimir Rogov, a Moscow-installed official in southeast Ukraine's 
partly-occupied Zaporizhzhia province, said fighting resumed there early Monday 
after Russian defenses beat back a Ukrainian advance the previous day.

   Rogov claimed that "the enemy threw an even bigger force into the attack 
than yesterday." The new attempt to break through the front line was "more 
large-scale and organized," he said, adding: "A battle is underway."

   Rogov's comments came after Moscow also claimed to have thwarted large 
Ukrainian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region, another of the four regions 
that President Vladimir Putin claimed as Russian territory last fall and 
partially controls.

   Russia's Defense Ministry claimed it had pushed back a "large-scale" assault 
Sunday at five points in Donetsk province.

   The claims could not be independently verified, and Ukrainian officials did 
not confirm any assaults, but the reports fueled speculation that a major 
Ukrainian ground operation could be underway as part of an anticipated 

   A video published by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry showed soldiers putting 
a finger to their lips in a sign to keep quiet. "Plans love silence," it said 
on the screen. "There will be no announcement of the start."

   The Center for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said 
on Telegram that Russian forces were "stepping up their information and 
psychological operations."

   "In order to demoralize Ukrainians and mislead the community (including 
their own population), Russian propagandists will spread false information 
about the counteroffensive, its directions and the losses of the Ukrainian 
army. Even if there is no counteroffensive," a statement on Telegram read.

   Ukrainian officials have kept Russia guessing about when and where it might 
launch a counteroffensive, or even whether it had already started. A possible 
counteroffensive, using advanced weapons supplied by Western allies, could 
provide a major morale boost for Ukrainians 15 months after Russia's full-scale 

   Recent military activity, including drone attacks on Moscow, cross-border 
raids into Russia and sabotage and drone attacks on infrastructure behind 
Russian lines, has unnerved Russians. Analysts say those actions may represent 
the start of the counteroffensive.

   Driving out the Kremlin's forces is a daunting challenge. Russia has built 
extensive defensive lines, including trenches, minefields and anti-tank 
defenses. The front line stretches for 1,100 kilometers (684 miles).

   Ukraine could launch simultaneous pushes in different areas, analysts say.

   Michael Clark, the former head of the Royal United Services Institute think 
tank, said the "increased tempo" of activity in recent weeks likely marked the 
start of the counteroffensive and that June is likely to see the start of 
Ukraine's ground operation.

   "There's something going on," he told the BBC.

   Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that 250 
Ukrainian personnel were killed in the fighting in Donetsk province, and 16 
Ukrainian tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armored combat 
vehicles were destroyed.

   "The enemy's goal was to break through our defenses in the most vulnerable, 
in its opinion, sector of the front," Konashenkov said. "The enemy did not 
achieve its tasks. It had no success."

   The Russian Defense Ministry said the alleged Donetsk attack started Sunday 
morning. It was unclear why it waited until early Monday to announce it.

   Ukraine often waits until the completion of its military operations to 
confirm its actions, imposing news blackouts in the interim.

   For months, Ukrainian officials have spoken of plans to launch a 
counteroffensive to reclaim territory Russia has occupied since invading the 
country on Feb. 24, 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized in 

   At least two factors have been at play in the timing: better ground 
conditions for the movement of troops and equipment after the winter, and the 
deployment of more advanced Western weapons and training of Ukrainian troops to 
use them.

   The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Ukraine used six mechanized and 
two tank battalions in the Donetsk attacks. The ministry released a video 
claiming to show destruction of some of the equipment in a field.

   In a rare specific mention of the presence of Russia's top military leaders 
in battlefield operations, Konashenkov said the chief of the general staff of 
the Russian armed forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, "was at one of the forward 
command posts."

   Announcing Gerasimov's direct involvement could be a response to criticism 
by some Russian military bloggers and by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russian 
mercenary group Wagner, 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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