The Ukrainians, engaged in a high-stakes game of ‘he said, she said’, have brushed off the Russian claim of a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the troubled Donbas region. According to the Ukrainians, this claim is merely a smokescreen designed by the Russians to distract attention from their own mounting casualties near the city of Bakhmut. ‘Pre-produced Russian fakes’, they commented about images of obliterated Ukrainian tanks.
Western military experts, sitting comfortably in their armchairs, talked about ‘forcible reconnaissance’ as if watching a chess match, stating that the real Ukrainian offensive is yet to come. We will see about that.
Meanwhile, the Russians claim to have quashed Ukrainian attacks in southern Donetsk, delivering a hard blow to the enemy. With the strategic use of artillery and other units, they have put the Ukrainian offensive there to bed, they assert.
Russian correspondents paint a vivid picture of a battlefield frenzy, with Russian positions southwest of Donetsk under attack since the wee hours of Sunday morning. The Ukrainians tried their hand at several advances with tank support along a front of about 60 kilometres. Local Ukrainian successes? So they say, but the reports also mention the Russians pushing them back up to three kilometres and retaining control of most of the village of Novodonezkoye.
Apparently, the Ukrainian side was bold enough to bring Leopard tanks into the mix. From the battlefield, it is a lengthy 60-kilometre drive to Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.
In other news, the Russian-Ukrainian border south of Belgorod remains a hotbed for conflict. A ragtag group of so-called ‘Russian volunteers’ has reportedly seized the village of Novaya Tavolshanka, capturing two Russian soldiers. British military intelligence, in a fit of speculation, suggested that Kiev may be testing the waters for a larger offensive.
Novaya Tavolshanka is not some tiny village but a place that once had 5,000 residents. ‘Now, it’s deserted’, says a gun-toting figure in a video, posted by the Russian Volunteer Corps. The governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, after days of shelling in the area, has indirectly admitted his loss of control over the village. In a video, Gladkov declared that the remaining 100 souls in Novaya Tavolshanka, near the city of Shebekino, could not be rescued due to ongoing gunfire.
The Ukrainians are craftily sidestepping any responsibility for the attacks, a strategic move with a clear purpose. They are eager to create the illusion of an internal revolt stirring within Russia. However, let us face the facts – Ukraine is most likely the orchestrator behind these attacks. This is not a fresh revelation but a pattern echoing their suspected involvement in sinking the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which they have never officially admitted. Similar suspicions have arisen from recent attacks in Moscow, with even the CIA surmising Ukrainian involvement, and let us not forget last autumn’s attack on the Crimea Bridge, where Ukrainian intelligence only recently acknowledged its part.
Reports indicate that Ukraine might be trying to expand the war into Russian territory. That would certainly stir the pot, going beyond the West’s ‘self-defence’ mandate for Ukraine. American media reports hint that President Joe Biden, in a game of high-stakes poker, might be willing to take larger risks, not taking Russian retaliation threats seriously. Is Biden playing with fire here? Only time will tell.
It seems we are diving into the next phase. Signs are everywhere as offensive brigades seem to be in action, using American gear like those bulky MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles). The word was always out: ‘When we see the first Leopard and Challenger tanks or mine-clearing vehicles, it’s game time.’ Well, the first images are trickling in, suggesting that we are indeed entering the pivotal phase of the counter-offensive.
Addendum: Early Tuesday morning dealt a shocking blow to the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in the Kherson Region, nestled on the Dnepr River upstream from Kherson city, as was affirmed by a local official and social media videos.
The Russian-appointed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontyev, blamed Ukrainian shelling for the damage to the Kakhovka dam. Only the upper part of the power station was damaged, but the dam itself was intact, he said. ‘The water has risen’, Leontyev told Russian news agencies. However, there is currently no need to evacuate civilians, he added. As usual, the Ukrainian authorities are pointing the finger at Russia. Andriy Yermak, the advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has described the destruction of the Kakhovka dam as ‘ecocide’ and holds Russia responsible for it.
This serious incident was characterized as a terrorist act by the Russian authorities. Despite the potential threat, it was conveyed that there was no immediate need for evacuations. Comparisons were made to previous periods of heavy rainfall which caused higher water levels, but it was underscored that local officials are gearing up to assist citizens in case of a worst-case scenario.