Russia’s military says it has thwarted another major offensive by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk, destroying military equipment and inflicting huge personnel losses on the enemy.
A defence ministry statement early hour on Tuesday said Russian forces had repelled Ukraine’s second major offensive in two days, destroying, among other military equipment, eight main battle Leopard tanks supplied to Ukraine by its Western allies and 109 armoured vehicles.
It also said total Ukrainian losses amounted to 1,500 troops.
Reuters could not immediately get a response from Kyiv about the Russian claims and was unable to independently verify the assertions. It, however, noted that both sides have often made claims of inflicting heavy human losses on each other which could not be independently verified.
On Tuesday, the leader of Russia’s powerful Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, cast doubt on the defence ministry statement, calling it an “absurd fiction of science”.
To kill that many people would require daily gains of 150 kilometres, he said in remarks published on the Telegram channel of his press service.
Totting up the figures provided by the ministry would imply “we have already destroyed the entire planet five times over,” Mr Prigozhin added sarcastically.
A recent Reuters report says the Wagner chief has frequently clashed with Moscow’s defence establishment over the conduct of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine and what he says is insufficient support being provided to his mercenary army.
Russia said that Ukrainian forces have begun a major offensive in the southern region of Donetsk, although it is unclear if Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive has commenced.
Kyiv pressed on for the second day in row, the Russian defence ministry said on its Telegram channel on Tuesday.
“Having suffered heavy losses the day before, the Kiev regime reorganised the remnants of the 23rd and 31st mechanised brigades into separate consolidated units, which continued offensive operations,” the ministry said, adding that “a complex fire defeat” had been inflicted.
Ukrainian officials have made no mention of any broad, significant new campaign and sidestepped questions on the matter on Monday.
FRCN Abuja/Adetutu Adetule