Day 467: Has Ukraine begun its counteroffensive?

Ukrainian troops make limited tactical gains on the junction between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. Anti-Putin Russian groups continue to fight for Belgorod, in Russia. Ukrainian troops begin an assault on the southern and northern flanks of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian troops make limited tactical gains on junction between Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk regions

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said there were many reports by Russian pro-war military bloggers that Ukrainian troops launched local ground attacks and gained between 500 meters and three kilometers on the junction between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. There was no visual evidence for that as of the writing of the report, the ISW added. 

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.

Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces attacked in the direction of Pryyutne (15km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) and Makariivka (within 4km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) and captured Novodarivka (14km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) and Neskuchne (2km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces broke through the first line of Russian defenses and advanced 500 meters to three kilometers in this area. There is no visual evidence for these reports as of this writing, the ISW said on June 4. The language of these reports suggests that Russian forces also lost their positions in Levadne (18km southwest of Velyka Novosilka), although it is unclear if this is a recent development or occurred on an earlier date.

Ukrainian troops begin assault on southern, northern flanks of Bakhmut

Ukrainian troops began an “offensive assault” on the southern and northern flanks of Bakhmut, in Donetsk region, spokesperson for the Eastern Military Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Colonel Serhiy Cherevatyi said on television.

“Despite the enemy’s fierce resistance, our airborne assault and mechanized units advanced in various parts of the frontline — along the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas Canal toward Klishchiyivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Zaliznyanske, and Bohdanivka, to a distance of 300 meters to one kilometer,” he said.

U.S. officials said there were signs that Ukraine may have begun its expected counteroffensive, The New York Times said.

The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the surge in attacks [Ukrainian artillery strikes and ground assaults] was a possible indication that Kyiv’s long-planned counteroffensive against Russian forces had begun.

The officials based their assessment in part on information from U.S. military satellites, which detected an uptick in action from Ukrainian military positions.

One difficulty in determining the exact start of a counteroffensive, beyond Ukraine’s operational security measures, is that the fighting could well begin with feints or diversions that are hard to decipher.

Buttressing the reports that the counteroffensive may have started, American military analysts said they believed Ukrainian units had begun an initial thrust to determine the position and strength of Russia’s forces.

Anti-Putin Russian groups continue to fight for Belgorod

The Freedom of Russia Legion, an all-Russian group that also fights alongside Ukrainian troops in Ukraine, said that it had used drones to take out two Russian tanks, a BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle, and a BRDM reconnaissance vehicle near the Shebekino checkpoint, slightly more than 30 kilometers south of Belgorod. “We’re advancing further until the regime is fully destroyed. Russia will be free!” the group said on Telegram. On June 1, the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps began another raid in Russia’s Belgorod region, bordering Ukraine.

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