Ukraine: Offensive Going Better Than Expected, U.S. Says
Reuters: Russia's Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, claimed on Tuesday that Russian forces had successfully thwarted the first three days of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, alleging that they had inflicted heavy casualties on Ukrainian soldiers. Unusually, Shoigu himself read the statement instead of the ministry's regular spokesperson. However, the claims made by Russia could not be independently verified by Reuters, and Ukraine has deliberately maintained ambiguity about the status of its counter-offensive.
According to Shoigu, Ukraine launched the promised offensive in various sectors of the front, but their attempts were halted and the enemy did not achieve its goals. Shoigu asserted that Ukraine had suffered 3,715 casualties over three days, with the loss of 52 tanks and 207 armored vehicles. However, he did not provide evidence for these claims or explain how Russia obtained such precise information.
Russia's Defense Ministry has a history of enumerating alleged losses of men and equipment suffered by Ukraine without substantiating the claims. Shoigu also reported that 71 Russian soldiers had been killed and 210 wounded in repelling the offensive, with Russia losing 15 tanks and nine armored vehicles.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to the claims, and it does not typically release its own casualty figures, although it has previously provided estimates of Russian losses. Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Russian Wagner militia fighting in Ukraine, dismissed the Russian Defense Ministry's assertions of heavy Ukrainian losses as "wild and absurd science fiction."
Shoigu also accused Ukraine of destroying the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River, suggesting it was a tactical move to redeploy defensive units into offensive operations. The Kremlin had earlier accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack to divert attention from its alleged failed offensive and to cut off a crucial water supply route to Crimea. Ukraine and its Western allies, however, claim that Russia was responsible for blowing up the dam.
While the Biden administration officials expressed encouragement over the Ukrainian counter-offensive's progress, with reports of advancements between five and ten kilometers in some areas, they refrained from commenting on Ukrainian military operations or the impact of the dam's destruction.
Ukrainian officials have maintained silence regarding the offensive to preserve the element of surprise, despite the challenges posed by social media, open-source reporting, satellite surveillance, and enemy espionage.
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