Putin claims Russian forces halting Ukrainian counteroffensive

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukrainian troops have started a long-expected counteroffensive and were suffering “significant” losses in their efforts to punch through Moscow’s defence lines in Ukraine.

“We can clearly say the offensive has started, as indicated by the Ukrainian army’s use of strategic reserves,” Putin told reporters in Sochi on Friday, where he was meeting with heads of other states in the Eurasian Economic Union.

“It’s known that the offensive side suffers losses of 3 to 1 – it’s sort of classic – but in this case, the losses significantly exceed that classic level,” he added.

With virtually no independent reporting from the front lines and Kyiv saying little on its military operations, it was impossible to assess Putin’s claims or whether Ukraine was penetrating Russian defences in its bid to drive out occupying forces.

Authorities in Ukraine have either denied or declined to confirm if their counteroffensive has started, despite military analysts and sources in Ukraine stating that the campaign has begun to incrementally unfold amid reports of increased fighting in several regions along the front lines with Russian forces in the east and southeast of the country.

“It’s a policy now not to give a running commentary of events and you see that in the words of President Zelenskyy, who has been praising the fighters in the east and talking about results but has given no indication as to what these results may be,” Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Kyiv, said.

Moscow claimed to have thwarted repeated attempts by the Ukrainians to breach Russian defences in the Zaporizhzhia region to potentially try and cut supply lines to the south.

“Corroborating Russian reports are pictures on social media that show a Leopard 2 tank abandoned, certainly damaged, and in the company of it a number of Bradley Fighting Vehicles,” Hull said, referring to equipment donated by Germany and the US.

“The presence of those vehicles on the battlefield would suggest the involvement of units of the Ukrainian army specifically trained and equipped for the summer counter-offensive.”

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