Russia has Announced that Ukraine has Launched a “Large-scale” Offensive

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What is really going on at the front?

On June 4 and on the night of the 5th Armed Forces of Ukraine, they launched an attack in the Yuzhno-Donetsk direction, that is, on the administrative border of the Donetsk and Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine, near Ugledar. The Russian Defense Ministry  calls this the beginning of a “large-scale offensive” and  says that eight Ukrainian battalions (about four to five thousand people) participated in the attacks. However,  drone footage  published by the agency itself and Russian pro-military telegram channels shows  several attacks involving forces not exceeding the size of a company (about a hundred people). Judging by the record, the maximum advance of the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the front line was one and a half kilometers. The battle scene captured on video is here .

At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine really suffered losses in equipment: there are burning Ukrainian armored vehicles in the videos published by Russia; later on the battlefield, the Russian military removed five wrecked International MaxPRO armored vehicles (in other words, at least in one area near Velyka Novoselka, Donetsk region, the battlefield remained under the control of the RF Armed Forces).

At the same time, Alexander Khodakovsky, a prominent figure in the self-proclaimed DPR, who was appointed by Vladimir Putin as deputy head of the National Guard for the occupied region, said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine “were successful” in one of the directions – between Velyka Novoselka and Ugledar (the video from there has not yet been published by either side). According  to Khodakovsky, the Ukrainian forces of electronic warfare and suppression disabled the communications of Russian units for some time, after which they managed to wedge themselves into the orders of the Russian Armed Forces.

So after all, this is already the beginning of a big offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – or not yet?

While this is definitely not the main blow. But perhaps this is reconnaissance in combat – before delivering one such blow or a series of them. Another possible explanation is that what is happening is part of the “preliminary measures” taking place these days along the entire front (from the vicinity of Bakhmut and Shebekino in the Belgorod region to the banks of the Dnieper in the Kherson region). Their goal is to pin down Russian reserves and stretch the defenses.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claims that the Armed Forces of Ukraine deployed two (out of about 20) brigades under Velikaya Novoselka, formed specifically for the big offensive in 2023 and armed with modern Western equipment. The appearance of these brigades on the battlefield may be a clear sign of the start of a major offensive. But there was no evidence that this really happened: the video showed equipment, including Western-made ones, that the Armed Forces of Ukraine used earlier in other directions (according to the leaked documents of the US Department of Defense, such equipment is not only in new ones, but also in old ones ) . brigades).

At the same time, an offensive from the area of ​​Velikaya Novoselka may be part of the main attack in the direction of Volnovakha and further to Mariupol. Such a strike has obvious advantages: the liberation of Mariupol, located 90 kilometers from the front line, is certainly important from a political point of view; access to the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov will interrupt one of the main supply lines of the RF Armed Forces along the Taganrog-Mariupol-Berdyansk highway. There are also disadvantages: as they move south from Velikaya Novoselka and Vugledar, the eastern flank of the advancing group will lengthen and will be open to strikes from Donetsk and the Russian border. 

The terrain in this area is not conducive to an offensive, especially given the dominance of Russian aircraft in the air: all 90 kilometers to Mariupol are bare steppe. In the fall of 2022, the Armed Forces of Ukraine had big problems in the offensive on a similar landscape in the Kherson region on the right bank of the Dnieper.

It is impossible to say unequivocally whether the attack near Velikaya Novoselka is a harbinger of an offensive in this particular direction. But it is definitely connected with the offensive, just like the missile attacks on  Mariupol and  Berdyansk in recent weeks. At the same time, it is possible that the main blow will eventually be dealt somewhere else.

Source: Meduza