Kyiv officials said Thursday its forces are moving in full swing with offensive operations against Russian forces, including in Bakhmut and Zaporizhzhia, after weeks of speculations about whether the long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive has begun.
“What is happening now? We are continuing the defense that we started on February 24, 2022,” Hanna Malyar, Deputy Defense Minister, said this week of the Bakhmut operation. “A defensive operation includes everything, including counteroffensive actions. Therefore, in some directions we are moving to offensive actions.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that Ukrainian forces also ran a counteroffensive operation in Zaporizhzhia from four directions early Thursday morning. “The enemy made an attempt to break through Russia's defense,” the ministry said in a statement. A Ukrainian spokesperson later confirmed Kyiv had conducted operations in the region.
Ukraine’s military has not yet gone so far as to use the word “counteroffensive,” but one senior officer and one soldier near the front lines told NBC the counteroffensive has begun.
The continued operations from Ukraine coincide with work to respond to the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam earlier this week, as Ukraine works to evacuate tens of thousands from flooded neighborhoods. The first flood-related deaths were reported Thursday by the Russian-appointed mayor of Nova Kakhovk, Vladimir Leontyev, who alleged five bodies have surfaced from the waters of the submerged town.
Meanwhile, four people working for Ukraine’s armed forces confirmed to The Washington Post that Ukraine was intensifying attacks on the front lines. Attacks have particularly intensified in southern Ukraine in the last 24 hours, according to U.S. officials who spoke with The New York Times.
Ukraine’s Air Force also launched 23 strikes on locations with Russian troops and four strikes on enemy anti-aircraft missile systems in the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s military said.
The current fighting in Ukraine is a “highly complex operational picture,” according to a new British intelligence community assessment released Thursday. “Heavy fighting continues along multiple sectors of the front. In most areas Ukraine holds the initiative,” the assessment states.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian and U.S. officials acknowledged that a series of counteroffensives had begun. On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces hit four Russian command posts, nine locations with Russian troops and military equipment, as well as two enemy anti-aircraft missile systems, five Russian ammunition depots, and an enemy radar station, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement.
Russia is likely still working on returning to an offensive “as soon as possible,” according to British intelligence.
The push from Ukraine comes as Russian fighting has faltered in recent months. Despite reported plans to seize all of Donbas by March, Russia has only seized approximately three territories.
Russia has flailed since the beginning of the war with logistics, supplies, and infighting issues, many of which remained Thursday, according to the Ukrainian military. For Russians deployed to the Volgograd region, they received the wrong kinds of boots. Instead of being provided uniforms, Russian contractors have been forced to buy their own uniforms at their own expense, Ukraine’s military said Thursday. Russia has also had “significant problems” supplying troops with food, Ukraine claimed.
While Russia is floundering, Ukrainian officials continued to call Thursday for more western nations to boost their military assistance packages for in order to hasten a Ukrainian victory.
Ukrainian MP Maria Ionova told The Daily Beast Thursday work is ongoing to supply the military with the weaponry necessary to defeat Russia.
“We have to do everything with our allies to provide all necessary weapons for our Armed Forces,” Ukrainian MP Maria Ionova told The Daily Beast.