| 24 July 2024, Wednesday |

Russia’s Shoigu: Ukraine’s counter-offensive has been thwarted

Russia’s defense minister said on Tuesday that his forces have blocked the first three days of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, killing or injuring over 3,700 Ukrainian soldiers.

Unlike normal, Sergei Shoigu read a statement rather than deferring to the ministry’s official spokeswoman.

Ukraine has purposefully remained ambiguous about whether its long-anticipated counter-offensive has begun, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield allegations.

“In the past three days, the Ukrainian regime launched a long-promised offensive in different sectors of the front,” Shoigu said.

“The attempts at an offensive were thwarted, the enemy was stopped,” he added. “The enemy did not achieve its goals but suffered significant and incomparable losses.”

He said Ukraine had suffered 3,715 casualties over three days, as well as losing 52 tanks and 207 armoured vehicles.

But it was not clear how Russia could have such precise information about Ukraine’s casualty numbers, and he offered no evidence for his assertions.

In its daily briefings, Russia’s Defence Ministry often enumerates the losses of men and material that it says Ukraine has suffered, without providing evidence.

Shoigu said 71 Russian soldiers had been killed and 210 wounded in repelling the offensive, and that Russia had lost 15 tanks and nine armoured vehicles.

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and does not generally release its own casualty figures, although it has also given high estimates of Russian losses in the past.

On Monday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said Ukraine had begun its counter-offensive by attacking Russian lines at different points in the south of the Donetsk region, and that all the attacks had been repelled.

However, Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Russian Wagner militia fighting in Ukraine and often at odds with Moscow, dismissed the ministry’s claims of heavy Ukrainian losses as “wild and absurd science fiction”.

Shoigu on Tuesday also accused Ukraine of destroying the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River in the early hours of Tuesday, saying it was a tactic to enable Kyiv to redeploy defensive units from the area downstream of the dam into offensive operations.

The Kremlin had earlier accused Kyiv of carrying out the attack to distract from the alleged failure of its offensive and to cut off a key water supply route to Crimea.

Ukraine and its Western allies say it was Russia that blew up the dam.

  • Reuters