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Date: 17 May 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Kyiv Is Playing Information Game As Its Counteroffensive Is Drawing Near
Ukraine’s highly anticipated spring offensive appears imminent, according to several indicators from the battlefield, as Ukrainian forces are boldly striking Russian targets including Moscow’s logistics and facilities. Ukraine has launched an assault near Bakhmut. However, Kyiv has not announced the beginning of its operation and thus Russian troops have no clue when and where to expect a new strike.
Between May 11 and 15, Ukrainian forces retook some twenty square kilometers of Russian-occupied territory north and south of Bakhmut. Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak on May 14 said recent gains in Bakhmut were a prelude to a counteroffensive. Asked when the offensive might happen, he replied: “There are a lot of operations, some of them already underway.” Podolyak also reported intense shelling around the rear of the Russian army and slight advances of Ukrainian forces in different areas in Donetsk province. Ukrainian forces have deployed Storm Shadow air-to-ground missiles that Kyiv had received from the United Kingdom, which allow Kyiv to target Russian troops far beyond the front line. The Storm Shadow cruise missile has a range of over 250km. More than 150,000 Russian troops are currently stationed in temporarily occupied territories in southern Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts, preparing to defend their positions against the expected Ukrainian counteroffensive, according to Andrii Cherniak, spokesman for Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence (HUR). As fighting intensifies before an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian officials in some occupied areas are ordering residents to leave. Russian forces have dispersed their posts in southern Ukraine, completely unaware of the direction where Ukraine could strike. Ukraine is getting on Moscow’s nerves as Russian forces have for weeks awaited an enemy strike. A series of local strikes along the front was thus enough to wreak panic in Russian news outlets and milbloggers who claimed the offensive to have started. Clearly, Kyiv is playing a psychological game with Moscow. Recent reports from the authorities in Kyiv claimed that the army was not ready yet. In an interview with BBC, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine needs more time to begin a planned counteroffensive because its allies have not yet delivered enough weapons. Perhaps Ukraine’s moves were designed to lead Russia astray. A strike might occur at any moment.
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