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Subject NEW: Ukraine’s troops attack along front in Donetsk region in precursor to counteroffensive
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Original Message Ukrainian troops went on the attack at multiple points along the frontline in the Donetsk region on Monday, driving back Russian forces in at least two areas in what appeared to be the preliminary stages of Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive.

The government in Kyiv said it had shifted to offensive operations in some sectors, with reports of intense close-quarter fighting in several locations.

Ukrainian officials continued to play down the attacks as “local” actions, and rejected the Russian defence ministry’s claims early on Monday that the major counteroffensive had begun and had already been thwarted at high cost to the attackers.

Moscow’s boasts of having repelled all the attacks were also undermined by Russian militia leaders and military bloggers who said Ukrainian forces had advanced around the city of Bakhmut in northern Donetsk and the village of Novodonetske in the west of the region.

The offensive operations did not appear to use much if any of the 12-brigade assault force that Ukraine has built up in recent months with the help of western training and equipment, suggesting they could be preliminary attacks aimed at probing and stretching Russian defences, in advance of a much bigger push to come.

The attacks signal the approach of a pivotal point in the war. If the Ukrainian counteroffensive liberates a significant swath of territory and sets Russian forces back on their heels, it would offer hope of an early end to the conflict. Failure could doom Ukraine to a protracted gruelling struggle with no end in sight, and international pressure to cede territory

[link to www.theguardian.com (secure)]
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