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Escalating Tensions: Ukraine's Potential Counteroffensive and the Information War

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
5th June 2023
Escalating Tensions: Ukraine's Potential Counteroffensive and the Information War
Russians suggest major attacks by Ukrainian forces in southeast Ukraine (Getty)

We are witnessing a significant development in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. As tensions rise, conflicting narratives between the two sides have further intensified the situation. Russian claims suggest major attacks by Ukrainian forces in southeast Ukraine, while Kyiv authorities accuse Moscow of spreading misinformation

Russian Claims: Thwarting Ukrainian Attacks in the Donetsk Region

The Russia-backed administration of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia province, represented by official Vladimir Rogov, alleges that Ukrainian forces resumed their offensive early Monday after a failed attempt the previous day. According to Rogov, the Ukrainian military has deployed a larger and more organized force, indicating a renewed effort to break through Russian defensive lines. This offensive is seen as part of Kyiv's strategy to reach the Sea of Azov coast and sever the land corridor to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Russia's Defense Ministry claims to have thwarted large Ukrainian attacks in the disputed Donetsk region. While these claims cannot be independently verified, they have fueled speculation about a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has released a video showing soldiers making a gesture of silence, hinting at plans in motion without official announcements. This secrecy, combined with recent military activities, has created an atmosphere of uncertainty.

Psychological Operations: Information and Deception

The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces accuses Russian forces of intensifying their information and psychological operations. Russian propagandists may disseminate false information about the anticipated counteroffensive to demoralize Ukrainians and mislead their own population. This psychological dimension highlights the importance of perception and deception in the conflict.

Ukrainian officials deliberately keep Russia guessing about the timing and location of their potential counteroffensive. With the support of their Western allies, Ukraine aims to bolster morale and reclaim territories occupied by Russia since the invasion in February 2022. Improved ground conditions after winter and extensive military aid provide favorable conditions for launching a ground operation.

Driving out Russian forces from Ukrainian territory poses a significant challenge for Kyiv's planners. Russia has established robust defensive lines, including trenches, minefields, and anti-tank obstacles, making any advancement arduous. However, analysts speculate that Ukraine may adopt a multi-pronged approach, simultaneously pushing forward in different areas along the 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) front line.

Analyst Predictions Regarding the Russian-Ukrainian War

Michael Clark, former head of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, suggests that the increased tempo of military activity in recent weeks indicates the start of Ukraine's counteroffensive. He believes that June is likely to witness the commencement of a ground operation. The exact extent of the alleged Ukrainian attacks remains uncertain, despite Russia's Defense Ministry claiming the destruction of Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles.

The Russian Defense Ministry's delayed announcement of the Donetsk attack raises questions about the timing. Ukraine has a history of imposing news blackouts during ongoing military operations, confirming their actions only after completion. This strategic silence leaves room for speculation and further adds to the complexity of the situation.

Drone Attack in Moscow

In a turn of events, Moscow was targeted by a series of drone attacks on Tuesday morning. This marked the first instance of residential areas in the Russian capital being attacked since the invasion of Ukraine. The incident follows a recent alleged drone attack on the Kremlin itself and a wave of devastating Russian bombardments in Kyiv. As the conflict intensifies and events unfold far from the front lines, Ukraine's planned counteroffensive looms large.

The drone strikes inflicted significant damage on several buildings in Moscow, leading to the evacuation of residents, according to officials. Despite the alarming nature of the attack, the Kremlin seemingly downplayed the incident, underscoring its resilience amidst the escalating conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the attack as an attempt to intimidate the public while commending the effectiveness of the capital's air defense systems.

Misbar’s Sources: