Ukraine’s military Monday dismissed claims by the Russian military that it foiled a major Ukrainian offensive in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk.
“We do not have such information, and we do not comment on any kind of fake,” a spokesperson for the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff said in response to a question from the Reuters news agency.
In a tweet, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak cautioned against trusting Russian information on the fighting in Ukraine.
“Russian news reports have long since become a separate virtual meta-universe,” he wrote.
Russia said Monday its forces had repelled a large-scale Ukrainian attack in the Donetsk region of southern Ukraine.
Russia’s defense ministry said the Ukrainian side’s goal was to try to break through what they considered the weakest area along the front lines, but that it “had no success.”
The Ukrainian attack, Russia said, included six mechanized battalions and two tank battalions.
Donetsk is one of the Russia-occupied areas that President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed last year in a move that was rejected by the international community.
It was not clear if the reported Ukrainian attack was part of a long-planned counter-offensive by Ukraine to reclaim areas Russian forces seized after launching a full-scale invasion early last year.
Ukraine’s military said during a daily report that there were 29 combat clashes in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ukrainian gains – Bakhmut
Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Monday that Ukrainian forces had retaken part of a village near Bakhmut, Ukraine after his Wagner mercenary group had handed its positions to Russian troops.
“Disgrace!” Prigozhin exclaimed in an audio message on his Telegram channel. “Now part of the settlement of Berkhivka has already been lost, the troops are quietly running away,” he added and urged Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, to come to the front to rally the troops.
“Come on, you can do it!” he said in his message. “And if you can’t, you’ll die heroes.”
Denis Pushilin, the top Moscow-backed official in the Russian-occupied part of the Donetsk region, which includes Bakhmut, told Russian state television the situation on the city’s flanks was “under control” but “very difficult.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Monday his government has launched an investigation after The Washington Post reported weapons sent by NATO allies to Ukraine were used in a cross-border raid in Russia’s Belgorod region.
The Post said the arms used included tactical vehicles provided by the United States and Poland, as well as rifles from Belgium and the Czech Republic.
“European weapons are delivered to Ukraine under the condition that they are used on Ukrainian territory with the purpose of defending that territory. And we have strict controls in place to see that this is the case,” De Croo told Belgium’s Radio 1.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his nightly address Sunday to remember the children who have died “as the result of Russian aggression” since 2014, including a 2-year-old girl in the Dnipro region late Saturday.
“Today in our country is the day of remembrance for children who died as a result of Russian aggression. Since 2014. Children who would have been alive if a bunch of thugs in the Kremlin, in Moscow, hadn’t considered themselves chieftains who allegedly had the right to decide the fate of nations,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy said 485 children have lost their lives from Russian attacks.
“This is a number that we can officially confirm, knowing the data of each child. The real number is much higher,” he said.
He also noted the 19,505 Ukrainian children who have been deported to Russia and are still “in the hands of the enemy.”
The United Nations says that around 1,000 other Ukrainian children have been wounded.