Russia claims that it has thwarted the attacks by Ukraine, and Ukraine, in turn, has said that Russia is lying. Russian officials said that Ukrainian forces had suffered heavy casualties, 250 troops and 16 tanks, as a result of the fighting. Ukraine said that there were 29 clashes as a result of the offensive.
The forces under President Volodymyr Zelensky are going on the offensive after much planning and anticipation. The offensive had to wait until the ground was hard enough after winter and spring rains.
Much of the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces is happening near Novodonetsk and Velyka Novosilka near Zaporizhzhia. Military analysts suggest that the reason for localizing an offensive in this area would be to cut off the supply chain to Russian troops by cutting ties to Crimea, which is occupied by Russia.
Ukraine attacked on Sunday using six mechanized and two tank battalions in southern Donetsk, per Russia's defense ministry. "On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction," the defence ministry said in a statement posted on Telegram.
"The enemy's goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front," it said. "The enemy did not achieve its tasks, it had no success."
However, "the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Monday that Ukrainian forces continued 'moving forward' near the long-contested city of Bakhmut in northern Donetsk. He made no comment on the counter-offensive," Reuters reports.
The BBC reports that Russia is attempting to take control of the narrative of the war thus far by claiming that Ukraine's long-anticipated counter-offensive has not been effective.
Ukraine's defense ministry said on Sunday "Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start." They shared footage showing masked, armed troops holding up a finger to their lips indicating that they were not telling the secrets of the counter-offensive.
The battles are ongoing in the region, and Ukraine reportedly launched an attack Monday morning. "Current operations," ABC reported based on comments from a senior Ukrainian commander, "were part of a 'bigger plan,' which would eventually lead to a major offensive."
They further reported that "Western officials cautioned that, even though Ukraine now has the military weaponry and equipment it needs to punch through the Russian lines, a large-scale assault could still be 'weeks' away."