Ukraine smashes through Russian defensive lines and forces troops to flee into landmines

Ukraine has secured a major breakthrough within just 48 hours of its long-awaited counter-offensive, according to the British Ministry of Defence. The MoD confirmed that Ukraine had already penetrated Russia’s first line of defence in several places. This comes as Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed for the first time today that the counter-offensive was underway.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, the Ukrainian President said that his military commanders were “in a positive mood” after the counter-attack was launched.

The MoD’s intelligence briefing revealed that Ukrainian forces have “likely made good progress” and forced Russia into a disorderly retreat in some places.

However, progress in its offensive in other areas “has been slower”.

Summing up the Russian reaction to the offensive, the MoD stated: “Some units are likely conducting credible manoeuvre defence operations while others have pulled back in some disorder.”

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It noted that there had been a huge increase in Russian casualties after several retreating troops had been blown up by their own minefields.

The major focus of the Ukrainian military’s attacks has been on the Zaporizhzhia region in the south of the country.

It is thought that Ukraine could try to recapture the town of Tokmak, around 10 miles to the south of the current front line.

This would split Russia’s forces into two groupings and disrupt break Russian transport links between occupied parts of Donbas and Crimea.

Meanwhile, alongside Zaporizhzhia, fights have also been reported near Bakhmut, which Russia said it had fully captured last month.

Serhiy Cherevaty, a Ukrainian military spokesperson, claimed that the country’s forces had advanced up to 1,400 metres near the eastern city in the past day.

Bakhmut had become the bloodiest and longest battle since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Mr Cherevaty also claimed that Ukraine had inflicted heavy Russian troop casualties and destroyed military hardware in the area.

However, earlier today Russia’s defence ministry claimed that it had repelled a Ukrainian offensive in the east and south of the country.

The defence ministry said Ukrainian forces have made further “unsuccessful” attempts to launch attacks in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, as well as around Bakhmut.

This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the counteroffensive had begun, claiming all attempts had failed so far.

Vladimir Putin’s discussion of the Ukrainian counteroffensive marks a “notable departure” from his previously “distanced approach to discussing battlefield realities”, according to the Institute of the Study of War (ISW).