US officials believe that it might take Kiev several days to probe Moscow's defenses before beginning an all-out push, the report claims
Ukraine has likely kicked off its much-hyped counteroffensive against Russia, but is so far focused on finding a weak spot in the Russian lines, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing sources. The report comes after the Russian Defense Ministry claimed it had repelled several attacks in the southern sector of the front in recent days.
According to unnamed US officials interviewed by the paper, while Kiev did not tell Washington when exactly the offensive was supposed to get underway, it provided the US with an approximate timeframe, with recent Ukrainian attacks falling within this period.
The US officials said that they partly based their assessment on satellite imagery showing increased movement at Ukrainian positions. Some American analysts believe that Kiev's troops have mounted an initial push to evaluate Russian defenses, with another NYT source saying that this probing may continue for several days.
Should this reconnaissance-in-force be successful, the eventual target of Ukraine's counteroffensive would become more evident, the source added.
However, while another unnamed US official confirmed to Politico that Washington had seen an "uptick" in Ukrainian military activity, he stressed that it did not mean that the long-anticipated push had already started.
On Monday morning, Russia's Defense Ministry said it repelled a "large-scale offensive" along five sections of the front line in Donbass, later insisting that Kiev's troops had suffered "significant losses" in a botched assault.
On Tuesday, the ministry said that Ukraine lost more than 1,500 service members, 28 tanks, including eight German-made Leopards, three French ???-10 light tanks, and more than a hundred other armored vehicles in the southern part of Russia's Donetsk Region.
However, on Monday, Mikhail Podoliak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, insisted that Moscow was "repelling... a global offensive that does not yet exist."
At the same time, Anna Malyar, the Ukrainian deputy defense minister, said that while Kiev's troops had indeed mounted several attacks, the main action was taking place near the Donbass stronghold of Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine) which was recently captured by Russia after months of fighting.