Zelenskyy visits allies in Europe and UK as Ukraine prepares counteroffensive
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had made “massive attempts to break through the defenses of our troops”, north and south of Bakhmut, but said none of them had succeeded . He also said that two of his commanders had died repelling Ukrainian attacks in a village near Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Kyiv praised their defenders but remained cautious
“The advance of our troops towards Bakhmut is the first success of offensive actions during the Bakhmut defense operation,” Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, said in a statement released on Monday on Telegram. “However, this is only a partial success,” Syrskyi noted.
Whether this partial success represents the start of something bigger or an isolated counterattack remains to be seen.
“It seems likely that we are in the preliminary, or ‘shaping’, stages of Ukraine’s long-awaited ‘spring’ offensive. In that sense, Ukraine has indeed begun its attack: but what we see are the first steps designed to create uncertainty,” said Christopher Tuck, conflict and security expert at King’s College London.
“Russian forces have created large fixed defenses all along the front line, but they cannot manage all of these defenses adequately because the front is so long,” Tuck told NBC News.
“Therefore, a key part of Ukraine’s battle plan will be to try to deceive Russian forces as to the likely point of attack,” he added. “While it is not impossible that Donbass is that planned point of attack, it is equally likely that Ukrainian operations around Bakhmut are aimed at concentrating Russian efforts there in preparation for a Ukrainian offensive elsewhere. “
Reuters, Associated press And Nancy Ing contributed.