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Escalation in Fighting Reported in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Regions

Escalation in Fighting Reported in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Regions

Recently, there has been escalation in Fighting Reported in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Regions. While Ukrainian officials have not confirmed whether this marks the beginning of their planned counteroffensive, Russia claims to have repelled a supposed “major offensive” in the Donetsk region, resulting in hundreds of alleged Ukrainian troop casualties. However, these claims remain unverified independently. Russian-backed militia leaders and military bloggers have admitted to Ukrainian forces achieving a breakthrough in southwestern Donetsk.

Recruits of the Steel Border storm brigade practise at the unit's base in central Ukraine March 24, 2023. REUTERS/Alina Yarysh
Recruits of the Steel Border storm brigade practise at the unit’s base in central Ukraine March 24, 2023. REUTERS/Alina Yarysh

Ukrainian officials stay silent, stressing operational secrecy amid growing anticipation for a potential counteroffensive. Ukrainian military plans feints and diversions to confuse Russian forces before launching a counteroffensive.

According to Moscow’s defense ministry, Ukraine launched an attack with six mechanized and two tank battalions from two brigades. In a statement on the Telegram messaging app at 1:30 am Moscow time, the ministry claimed that the enemy sought to breach their defenses in the most vulnerable sector of the front but ultimately failed to achieve its objectives. The ministry further alleged that 250 Ukrainian troops were killed, and numerous tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers were destroyed. It should be noted that the Russian defense ministry has a history of exaggerating casualties inflicted by their forces.

Videos circulating online show purported Ukrainian armored vehicles being destroyed near Velyka Novosilka, located 60 miles west of Donetsk city. However, the timing and outcome of the battle captured in these videos remain unclear.

The Ukrainian general staff’s daily update on Sunday did not mention a major offensive in Donetsk but reported 29 clashes in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, along with 15 airstrikes on enemy troops across the country.

Recent Tactical Gains and Escalating Tensions

Monitoring troop movements, the Institute for the Study of War in Washington stated that Ukrainian forces conducted localized ground attacks and reportedly made limited tactical gains in western Donetsk oblast and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblast.

Though not the awaited counteroffensive, recent attacks show progress. Alexander Khodakovsky of the pro-Moscow Vostok Battalion recognized Ukrainian advances in Velykonovosilkivskyi. However, Khodakovsky believes that if Ukraine manages a breakthrough, it could lead to the influx of additional troops.

Russian military bloggers also acknowledged Ukrainian breaches in Velykonovosilkivskyi. Blogger Wargonzo stated, “This time the news is much more disturbing.”

Meanwhile, Vladimir Rogov, head of Russia’s puppet administration in the Zaporizhzhia region, reported a significant attack there, stating, “The fight is on.”

As Ukraine prepares 12 brigades with around 60,000 troops for potential offensive, tensions escalate to reclaim occupied territory since 2014.

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