Anticipation has mounted around what is expected to be an attack in the east and south, but president Volodymyr Zelensky finally said in an interview published on Saturday that ‘we are ready’ for it.
As expected, there have been no official announcements, but this morning Russia claimed to have repelled a ‘major offensive’ at five frontline points in the eastern Donetsk region.
Though it is yet unclear whether this was the beginning of a counter-offensive, the defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said his forces had killed 250 Ukrainian soldiers.
Three infantry fighting vehicles, 16 tanks and 21 armoured combat vehicles were destroyed, the statement said.
‘The enemy’s goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front,’ said Mr Konashenkov.
‘The enemy did not achieve its tasks. It had no success.’
Ukrainian officials made no comment, and have emphasised the need for secrecy about their military operations.
It comes as Ukraine’s defence minister posted a tweet on Sunday quoting music band Depeche Mode, specifically their song titled Enjoy the Silence.
‘Words are very unnecessary… They can only do harm,’ Oleksii Reznikov tweeted alongside a video referring to the counter-offensive.
Posted on Official Telegram channels, and on Crimean TV, a voiceover says: ‘Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start.’
Authorities have repeatedly discouraged public speculation, insisting it could help the enemy.
In recent days, there has also been a crackdown on citizens sharing footage of air defence systems shooting down Russian missiles.
For months, Ukrainian officials have spoken about plans to reclaim strategically significant territory from Russians.
The attacks come as people living in Russian villages on the border with Ukraine have started to flee their homes.
Russia’s western Belgorod region has recently been under attack from a sabotage group made up of pro-Ukraine Russian partisan fighters.
The Kremlin has appeared to downplay the situation in border regions, despite intense shelling in recent days.
But the mayor of Belgorod, Valentin Demidov, on Friday told AFP that some 5,000 people who fled border villages have registered with city authorities, with several hundred in temporary housing.
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