Ukrainian soldiers sit atop battle tanks deploying smokescreens as they join military drills


  • U.S. military analysts said Ukraine reportedly aims to determine Russia's weaknesses in its initial push
  • A Ukrainian defense official said their forces have now shifted to "offensive actions"
  • Ukraine's top diplomat said their military has "enough weapons" to begin its counteroffensive against Russia

U.S. and Russian officials have suggested that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has likely started, despite Kyiv's silence on its major pushback against Moscow.

The New York Times reported that American officials recently observed an increase in artillery strikes and ground assaults by the Ukrainian forces via U.S. military satellites, which allow Americans to see the movements on the battlefield due to their infrared capabilities to track artillery fire and missile launches.

U.S. military analysts also believed that Ukrainian combat units were making an initial push to determine the positions and strength of Russian troops, according to The Times.

A U.S. official told the publication that this strategy, called "reconnaissance by force," allows Ukraine to look for potential weaknesses in Russian defenses and would most likely continue for several days.

The unnamed American official added that if Ukrainian forces successfully determine Russia's weaknesses, the main thrust of their counteroffensive would become more evident during that time.

But for John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, it's Kyiv's call to confirm if their long-planned counteroffensive has started.

"What I can speak to is how hard we worked to prepare them to be ready," Kirby said.

"The President is confident we did everything we could over the last seven, eight months or more to make sure they had the capabilities to be successful," he added.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said a major Ukrainian operation had begun at five locations in their temporarily-held Donetsk region. It also claimed it had thwarted the assaults and inflicted casualties on Ukrainian forces.

Mikhail Zvinchuk, a Russian pro-military blogger who writes under the pseudonym Rybar on the Telegram messaging app, said he noticed a surge in fighting along the front lines in Ukraine.

Zvinchuk also claimed that Ukrainian soldiers used German-made Leopard 2 tanks to seize Novodonetske village in Donetsk, a possible sign that Kyiv had mobilized its NATO-trained soldiers into the battlefield.

While Kyiv has yet to confirm if its counteroffensive has started, a Ukrainian defense official hinted that their forces began "moving to offensive actions."

On Telegram, Hanna Malyar, Ukraine's deputy defense minister, said that "a defensive operation includes everything ... including counteroffensive actions."

Malyar also noted that the epicenter of Ukraine's combat operations is in the heavily-contested city of Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Reuters their country has enough supply of weapons to begin its counteroffensive against Russia.

But Kuleba said that they would still need assistance from Ukraine's allies to sustain the war effort.

"When you go on the counter-offensive, it's one thing to have enough weapons to begin it, but another thing to ensure sustainability of supplies in order to be able to continue as long as is needed," Kuleba said.

Ukraine's top diplomat also did not confirm whether or not Ukraine's major operation has started. But he told the outlet that the most important thing is not when it began but that it ended in Ukrainian victory.

Ukrainian soldiers carry a heavy machine gun as they train near the Chernnobyl exclusion zone