Russian Media Says Ukraine's Counteroffensive Has Begun Amid Conflicting Reports
Russian media as well as some Western reports are saying the Ukrainian counteroffensive has begun. This comes the day after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner Group, blasted regular Russian forces for retreating from parts of the Bakhmut front.
Prigozhin also claimed that Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor-rifle Brigade has given up its positions along the town's southwest edge, also while pleading for more ammunition to go to Wagner fighters. Importantly, in a late Thursday report Russian state media is citing a prominent war correspondent to say the much-touted spring offensive has arrived, even though Ukrainian leaders on the same day said it is still stalled and they are "waiting" - also for more weapons from the West.
Russia's RT cites the war journalist as follows: "Ukrainian forces have breached Russian defenses northwest of the city of Artyomovsk in Donbass, Russian war correspondent Evgeny Poddubny reported on Thursday evening. He believes it’s the beginning of Kiev’s much-touted spring offensive."
"The attackers appear to have launched a series of simultaneous strikes north and south of Artyomovsk, also known as Bakhmut, several other Russian war reporters added," the report continues. "The city has been the scene of intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops for months."
And more from the state media report:
In addition, Kiev’s troops have reportedly used tanks to strike the city of Soledar. Located northeast of Artyomovosk, it was captured by Russian troops after heavy fighting in January.
Meanwhile, in Zaporozhye Region, Kiev’s troops have reportedly attacked Russian positions near the city of Guliay-Pole. They are seeking to break through the Russian forces’ first defensive line, Poddubny explained.
However, the defense ministry was quick to contradict some of these claims, also downplaying the severity of fighting in these locales:
⚡️#BREAKING The statements about the "defense breakthroughs" that took place in various parts of the contact line do not correspond to reality — Russian Defense Ministry— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) May 11, 2023
The Kremlin had previously expressed hoped it would have Bakhmut operations complete by Victory Day (May 9), but this proved illusive even after Russian forces captured some 90-95% of the largely destroyed city.
Conflicting reports persist, and it does appear some heavy frontline fighting has erupted from the Ukrainian side...
A # of Russian telegram channels believe Ukraine's counteroffensive has begun with successful advances NW and SW of Bakhmut and Soledar. They warn of fighting/movements near Maiorsk, Kupyansk, and Hulyaipole.https://t.co/6QZR6rmVWZhttps://t.co/Se1hcjFdedhttps://t.co/6ilAJ9pqCx https://t.co/PULrXOzgKk pic.twitter.com/PIy0NEoCzy— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 11, 2023
On Wednesday Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov struck a rare pessimistic tone in connection with the situation in Donetsk region. "The special military operation continues. It is a very, very difficult operation and of course certain goals have been achieved in a year," he said.
Pro-Ukraine accounts are claiming Russian troops are in a "panic"...
BREAKING:— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) May 11, 2023
The Ukrainian Army has launched a local counteroffensive in Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian forces have broken through in the direction of Berkhovka & Yagodnoye.
They are also pushing toward Soledad & have retaken the Industrial College in S-W Bakhmut
Russians are panicking pic.twitter.com/KjrMHiRXp2
President Zelensky had also earlier in the day previewed a "surprise"...
"We are expecting appropriate armoured equipment. It comes in parts, and with that amount, you can move forward... But we will lose a lot of people. I believe that this is impossible. We need to wait. We need some more time" he said.I am not ready to communicate with you, to say when we will be advancing, because I think you understand me. Because to some extent, this prepares the enemy. And therefore, I would like it to be an unpleasant surprise, not the other way around.
Meanwhile a CNBC headline has also highlighted these emerging reports of the counteroffensive being underway.
Are we about to witness Russian forces get beat back at a moment frontline forces could be exhausted from months of heavy battles and costly advances? Or will the counteroffensive falter before it even gets off the ground?