Ukrainian troops on the frontline near Avdiivka in the Donestk region in eastern Ukraine (RTE)
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 2036 GMT:
“Multiple people familiar with US intelligence on the matter” say Ukraine has established a network of agents and sympathizers inside Russia to carry out acts of sabotage.
The network is being supplied with drones to stage attacks. Two sources said Ukraine is using smuggling routes to send in drones or drone components that are assembled inside Russia.
US officials believe the pro-Ukrainian agents carried out the attack on the Kremlin by two drones in early May. It is not clear if the network was involved in the assault by up to 25 drones on Moscow and its suburbs on May 30, or in strikes on oil refineries and other strategic facilities in Russian region near the Ukrainian border.
UPDATE 2024 GMT:
The anti-Kremlin militia Russian Volunteer Corps say that they have been in full control for several days of the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, in Russia’s Belgorod region 3.5 km (2.2 miles) from the border (see 0615 GMT).
The militia says Russian authorities have abandoned the village.
It also claimed the first killing of a Russian commander, Army Col. Andrei Stesev, in its operations.
Governor of the #Belgorod region Gladkov stated that about 100 residents remained in the border village of Novaya Tavolzhanka. He confirmed that as of today "we can't go there yet," and because of the shelling there is no way to clarify the information. pic.twitter.com/xOtyEX2iyR
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) June 5, 2023
UPDATE 1751 GMT:
The US has imposed sanctions on individuals in a group linked to Russian intelligence, citing their role in Moscow’s efforts to destabilize democracy and influence elections in Moldova.
Seven memberes of the group, including its leader Konstantin Prokopyevich Sapozhnikov, are cited.
Sapozhnikov is accused of plotting to destabilize the government of Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the west.
Russia has occupied part of the country, the region of Transnistria, since 1992. In February, President Maia Sandu said Russia was pursuing the overthrow of the government through violent actions in the guise of protests.
Earlier in the month, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian intelligence services had intercepted a Russian plan to “establish control over Moldova”.
UPDATE 1409 GMT:
Pro-Ukraine hackers have disrupted Russia’s State outlets in Russian and Russian-occupied territory with messages about their vulnerability to Ukrainian attacks.
On Sunday, TV broadcasts in Russian-occupied Crimea were interrupted with a clip from a short film, released by the Ukrainian government, showing members of the military putting their fingers to their lips and saying “Shh….”, followed by the caption “Plans love silence. There will be no announcement about the start [of the counter-offensive].”
On Monday, a faked radio address by Vladimir Putin was played on Russian stations. “Putin” told residents of the Rostov, Belgorod, and Voronezh regions, which all are next Ukraine, that Ukrainian forces had crossed the border. He said that martial law had been declared in the regions, that a nationwide military mobilization launched, and that residents should evacuate deeper into Russia.
The broadcast where Putin warns that "🇺🇦 troops armed w/NATO equipment invaded Kursk, Belgorod & Bryansk obls" & tells its residents to evacuate "to save lives & allow RU army to protect RU land from 🇺🇦 Nazis," was aired on multiple local radiostations
🎥 https://t.co/5pZw1gpBJQ pic.twitter.com/KKQdPxSu3E
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) June 5, 2023
UPDATE 1402 GMT:
A “Western official with knowledge of the situation” says Ukraine has advanced up to 5 or 6 km (3.1 to 3.7 miles) in the southern Donetsk region.
Continuing to maintain silence on operations, a Ukrainian official noted that Kyiv’s troops were always in the village Novodonetske — a focus of Russian military observers this morning (see 0843 GMT) — on Sunday morning.
Alexander Khodakovsky, the head of the Russian proxy Vostok Battalion, posted on Telegram, “The situation on Novodonetsk and to the left towards Velykonovosilkivskyi is difficult.” He said that “for the first time we saw Leopards [German-made tanks] in our tactical area.”
UPDATE 0921 GMT:
Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin says Ukrainian forces have also advanced north of occupied Bakhmut.
Prigozhin said it was a “disgrace” that the Ukrainians have retaken part of the settlement of Berkhivka.
UPDATE 0843 GMT:
Prominent Russian military observers are expressing concern about Ukrainian advances in the Donetsk region since Sunday.
Igor Girkin, former commander of Russian proxy forces in the area and a critic of the Kremlin’s conduct of its invasion, posted on Telegram that Ukraine has “cut into our position” in the Volnovakha area.
Girkin said losses were partially restored by counter-attack and the Ukrainians have “not broken through”.
The milblogger Semyon Pegov, who posts as “War Gonzo”, wrote that the position in southern Donetsk from Velyka Novosilka to Vuhledar “grows more alarming by the hour“.
He said Ukrainian forces have reached the outskirts of Novodonetske, west of Vuhledar, and Monday’s assault is “more serious” than yesterday’s.
Pegov and other milbloggers say the Ukrainian forces began attacking this morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. with about 30 armored vehicles.
The Russian proxy official in charge of occupied areas in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, Vladimir Rogov, also reported a significant attack.
“The enemy threw even greater forces into the attack than yesterday, attempting a larger-scale breakthrough in an organised manner,” he posted on Telegram. “The fight is on.”
UPDATE 0832 GMT:
The latest Russia attacks on the Kherson region in southern Ukraine have killed a 55-year-old security guard.
UPDATE 0642 GMT:
A local military ally of Russia has acknowledged Ukrainian gains in the Velykonovosilkivskyi area of the western Donetsk region.
Alexander Khodakovsky, the head of the Vostok Battalion, said:
The enemy is trying to break through. Having grouped their forces into a fist, they were able to achieve tactical success. They took one position from us, but suffered tangible losses.
Now the enemy are reinforcing their presence at the point of breakthrough, obviously trying to make further gains.
UPDATE 0633 GMT:
Claims are circulating that Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has escalated his fight with the Russian Defense Ministry, seizing a brigade commander.
Wagner’s civil war with the Russian Army has moved beyond words: Prigozhin’s men detained the commander of Russia’s 72nd Brigade and made the lieutenant-colonel “confess” on camera that, while drunk, he had ordered his troops to fire on a Wagner convoy. https://t.co/Yv7RnyqlV4
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) June 5, 2023
Last month Prigozhin accused the 72nd Brigade of abandoning its position near Bakhmut, as Wagner mercenaries were trying to complete the occupation of the city in eastern Ukraine.
Last weekend the Wagner leader declared that Russian units had mined exit routes out of Bakhmut, as the mercenaries were pulling out of the city to be replaced by conventional forces.
UPDATE 0615 GMT:
Anti-Kremlin militias carried out another incursion — their fourth since May 22 and third since last Thursday into Russia’s Belgorod region on Sunday.
Geolocated footage showed the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps advancing towards the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, 3.5 km (2.2 miles) from the Ukrainian border. The Wall Street Journal’s Yarsoslav Trofimov reported that the militiamen were still in Novaya Tavolzhanka as of 5 p.m.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov confirmed fighting within Novaya Tavolzhanka. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed its units forced attackers to withdraw.
Earlier Sunday, the anti-Kremlin militias said they had captured two Russian troops. They offered to exchange them in a personal meeting with regional governor Gladkov, who said he was willing to do so.
After the reported assault on Novaya Tavolzhanka, the militias posted a video with a dozen captured Russian soldiers.
The governor didn’t show up. In a new video, the Russian anti-Putin fighters showed 12 POWs taken in Belgorod, some of them injured, and said they will be transferred to Ukraine for future exchanges. And they also praised Prigozhin 👀 https://t.co/6pMXojL8Fd
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) June 4, 2023
Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a running feud with the Russian Defense Ministry, offred to negotiate the release of the Russian POWs if Moscow’s failed to do so. He added that the officials have a problem with people who have “balls”.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s Defense Ministry has indicated that Ukraine’s anticipated counter-offensive may have begun in the east of the country, with a large assault in the Donetsk region.
The Ministry said on Sunday that Ukraine attacked with six mechanized and two tank battalions at five points along the front in southern Donetsk. It made unsupported claims about the killing of Ukrianian troops.
Ukraine’s officials, having said that they would not announce the launch of the counter-offensive, made no comment. Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, quoted Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence in a cryptic message on Sunday:
"Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm"
(c) Depeche Mode pic.twitter.com/0Ul78wSv9q
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) June 4, 2023
The Ukraine military did say that it had made a small advance towards towards the strategically important town of Svatove.
With Russia’s 15-month offensive stalled and making no gains since July — apart from a costly victory in the strategically-insignificant city of Bakhmut — Ukraine has been preparing for months for another major push, after it liberated areas in the northeast and south last autumn.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the Wall Street Journal over the weekend that Kyiv was prepared to launch the counter-offensive.
I don’t know how long it will take. To be honest, it can go a variety of ways, completely different. But we are going to do it, and we are ready.
The Russian Defense Ministry, whose statements often bear little relation to reality, declared Monday: “The enemy’s goal was to break through our defences in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front. The enemy did not achieve its tasks, it had no success.”
The Ministry released a video claiming to be of the destruction of several Ukrainian armored vehicles.