What exactly is Russia claiming happened?
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), “a total of six mechanized and two tank battalions of the enemy” launched an attack along “five sectors of the front in the South-Donetsk direction.”
It added in a Telegram post in the early hours of Monday morning: “As a result of the skillful and competent actions of the Eastern Group of Forces, the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine amounted to more than 250 personnel, 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, 21 armored fighting vehicles.”
“In total, six mechanized and two tank battalions of the enemy were involved.
“The goal of the enemy was to break through our defenses on the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front. The enemy did not achieve his tasks, he had no success.”
The ministry posted what it said was a video of the battle, showing Ukrainian armored vehicles coming under heavy fire.
President Putin's top commander in Ukraine, Valery Gerasimov, "was at one of the advanced command posts," its statement added.
How reliable are these claims?
At the time of writing, the main source for these specific claims is the Russian MoD and as such, should be treated with a liberal pinch of salt.
In its latest daily assessment, The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), said: “Ukrainian forces conducted local ground attacks and reportedly made limited tactical gains in western Donetsk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast on June 4.
“Geolocated footage posted on June 4 shows that mechanized Ukrainian forces made limited advances northeast of Rivnopil [a village in Donetsk],” it added.
The ISW stressed that there was “no visual evidence” for some of the claims which were made by Russian milibloggers, some of which appear to contradict the Kremlin’s version of events.
The ISW wrote: “Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces broke through the first line of Russian defenses and advanced 500 meters to three kilometers in [one area of Donetsk].”
It added: “Russian sources largely claimed that the Ukrainian localized counterattacks were reconnaissance-in-force operations.”
A high-profile Russian war correspondent, Alexander Kots, said that "battles have been going on" in the area of Ugledar, in the south of the Donetsk region, and also further north in Soledar and Bakhmut, which were occupied by Moscow's forces after months of fighting.
Kots said Ukrainian forces were "conducting offensive operations" in and around the frontline hotspot of Bakhmut which Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed last month had fallen to Moscow.
He suggested that Kyiv had not yet "introduced the main forces into battle."
Has Kyiv commented?
On Monday evening after a day of not commenting directly, Kyiv said it was conducting "offensive actions" on the front line and noted some progress in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
"The defensive operation includes counteroffensive actions. Therefore, in some sectors, we are conducting offensive actions," Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said.
"The Bakhmut sector remains the epicentre of the hostilities," she said, adding Kyiv's troops were occupying the "dominant heights" and reported some "success".
"In the south the enemy is on the defensive," she added.
Ukraine’s StratCom of the Armed Forces in a Monday morning post on Telegram said: “Russian occupying forces are intensifying their informational and psychological operations.”
They added: “Russian propagandists will spread false information about the counteroffensive, its directions, and the losses of the Ukrainian army. Even if there is no counterattack.
“For this, old videos and photos have been prepared, which show damaged vehicles, dead and captured. And also other fake materials.”
Is this the long-waited Ukrainian counteroffensive?
That’s currently unclear. There has been no comment from officials in Kyiv about the attack referred to by the Russian MoD and the details have not been independently verified.
The Ukrainian army has previously said there would be no big announcement of the start of the counteroffensive and officials in Kyiv have been vague when referring to any specific start date.
Over the weekend, a PR campaign from Kyiv that centered on a video of Ukrainian soldiers raising a finger to their lips to ask for silence made clear that details of the counteroffensive would not be forthcoming.
"Words are very unnecessary— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) June 4, 2023
They can only do harm"
(c) Depeche Mode pic.twitter.com/0Ul78wSv9q
On social media, speculation is already rife.
Russian Defense Ministry says Ukrainian counter offensive has begun.— Jay in Kyiv (@JayinKyiv) June 5, 2023
Judging from the panic I'm seeing on Russian military channels, they are right.
This will be an absolute massacre.
What has Kyiv been waiting for?
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Saturday, June 3, President Zelensky said Kyiv is “ready” for the long-awaited counteroffensive but that “we would like to have certain things” in order to protect both Ukraine’s soldiers and its civilians.
Zelensky was referring to air defense systems, in particular the US-made Patriot systems which have been exceptionally busy in Ukraine in recent weeks, intercepting missiles and drones launched in almost nightly Russian attacks on the capital Kyiv.
Despite very little damage being done, at huge financial cost to Moscow, some analysts believe the Kremlin’s tactic is to force Ukraine to choose between defending its cities or defending its troops when they launch the counteroffensive.
It’s not known exactly how many Patriot systems are currently in Ukraine or where they are all stationed, but Zelensky implied that with current supplies, it is not possible to do both.
“The reality is 50 Patriots will, for the most part, prevent people from dying,” he said.
“Everyone knows perfectly well that any counteroffensive without air superiority is very dangerous."
"A large number of soldiers will die" if Kyiv is not given the weapons to counter Russian air power, he added.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter