Ukraine hacks Russian TV broadcasting video taunting Putin over counteroffensive as Russia claims attack has begun
RUSSIAN TV was hacked with a video taunting Putin over the start of Ukraine’s counter-strike amid claims the long-awaited attack has begun.
The footage released by Ukraine’s defence ministry shows a fierce group of silent soldiers holding a finger to their lips with the caption: “Plans are fond of silence.”
“There will be no ‘it’s starting’ announcement,” it adds.
Released on Sunday, the defiant message was soon plastered across TV screens in occupied Crimea after a widespread hack.
A resident in Simferopol – the second-largest city on the peninsula – confirmed the clip was shown on cable TV, Pravda reports.
Humiliated Russia shut down the hack by immediately slashing the signal.
Oleg Kryuchkov, an official in the Putin-appointed regime, said: “The broadcasts of a number of Crimean cable operators have been hacked.
“The signal is being cut. Broadcast television – all multiplexes – are working as usual.”
It comes as Russia claimed it pushed back a “large-scale offensive” by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk on Sunday.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the reported attack marked the start of the major Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Ukraine recently said there would be no official announcement on the start of its counter-strike.
Kyiv has been promising to unleash a spring offensive for months – hoping to take back territory lost since Putin invaded in February last year.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed Ukraine launched an attack on Sunday morning with six mechanised and two tank battalions in southern Donetsk – one of four Ukrainian areas Russia annexed in September.
Russia released footage of supposed Ukrainian armoured vehicles being blown up in a field after being hit.
And Putin’s forces claimed they killed 250 Ukrainian soldiers and wiped out 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armoured combat vehicles during the battle.
Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “The enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses in the most vulnerable.
“The enemy did not achieve its tasks. It had no success.”
In a rare move, Russia even claimed Putin’s top commander in Ukraine, Valery Gerasimov, “was at one of the advanced command posts”.
Although Ukraine didn’t confirm the assault, it suggested the Russian reports were part of a misinformation campaign.
And the chief of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said his forces continue “moving forward” near the besieged city of Bakhmut in northern Donetsk.
Ukraine often waits until the completion of its military operations to confirm its actions.
Zelensky made no mention of the alleged attack in his video address on Sunday night.
In response to Russia’s claims, Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a former British officer and chemical weapons expert, said: “Russia is usually diametrically opposed to the truth!”
On Monday, several Russian military bloggers, including Semyon Pegov – who blogs under the name War Gonzo – reported more heavy fighting in areas controlled by Russia.
Russia’s army claimed to have pushed back a “sabotage group of Ukrainian terrorists” trying to cross the border near the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, in the Belgorod region.
“The enemy was hit by artillery. The enemy scattered and retreated,” it said.
On Monday morning, two drones plunged onto a highway in Russia’s Kaluga region – with the local governor, Vladislav Shapsha, claiming there was no detonation of explosives.
Based on the information provided by Shapsha, the drones fell some around 180 miles from Moscow.
It comes against a backdrop of increased strikes on Russian positions, including with British long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
Ukraine claims that ammo dumps, troop concentrations, command posts and artillery positions are being regularly hit in what military experts refer to as “shaping operations” ahead of the offensive.
Last week, a suspected British-supplied Storm Shadow missile hit the Berdiansk port in Russian-occupied Ukraine causing “casualties and destruction”.
Meanwhile, Russia launched naval drills in the Baltic Sea on Monday – one day after Nato member states kicked off their annual Baltic drills.
On the Nato side, 6,000 personnel, 50 ships and more than 45 aircraft are taking part – with Finland participating for the first time, the US Navy said.
Meanwhile, the Russian military said up to 40 ships and boats, 25 aircraft and around 3,500 personnel will take part in its exercises, which are scheduled to last until June 15.
Moscow also began drills in the Sea of Japan and far eastern Sea of Okhotsk on Monday, involving more than 60 warships and support vessels.
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