Ukraine’s military has initiated its highly anticipated counteroffensive in response to the invasion of the country by Russian forces that has been ongoing for over a year.
According to multiple reports including from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the counteroffensive has officially started after months of Ukrainian officials training for the attack in a bid to reclaim occupied territory.
“The counteroffensive won’t likely unfold as a single grand operation. It will likely consist of many undertakings at numerous locations of varying size and intensity over many weeks,” said the ISW.
A significant conflict has erupted in the southeastern region of Ukraine, situated south of the prominent Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, while in specific sectors of the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast regions, Russian forces are attacking and Ukrainian forces are mounting counterattacks in response, the ISW reports.
Earlier this week, Moscow officials claimed that Ukrainian forces were conducting a significant operation to breach Russian defensive lines, but authorities in Kyiv did not confirm those attacks. In fact, Ukrainian authorities even suggested that the claim made by Moscow was a deliberate misinformation tactic employed by the Russians.
Last month, Oleksiy Danilov, the national security adviser for Ukraine, said parts of the besieged city of Bakhmut were still under Ukrainian control, and Kyiv planned to hold on to the city for as long as possible. On Thursday, the ISW reported that Ukrainian military officials announced that Ukrainian troops advanced about 200 miles into unspecified sectors of the Bakhmut area “with official declarations of Ukrainian offensive intent.”
The head of a Russian private army, the Wagner Group, said that Ukrainian forces had become stronger in the 16-month war thanks to Western weapons and training.
The offensive comes a day after floodwaters from a collapsed dam kept rising in southern Ukraine, causing large evacuations and claiming at least 14 lives, leaving many homeless and tens of thousands without drinking water. Both Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the destruction of the dam.
According to the Associated Press, following President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to assess the damage from the dam collapse, Ukrainian officials reported on Thursday that Russian forces shelled a flooded Ukrainian city. This incident resulted in the temporary suspension of rescue operations.