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Russia claims Ukraine is going on offense, but Kyiv says Moscow staging misinformation campaign

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A Russian-installed official in eastern Ukraine is claiming that “a battle is underway” against Kyiv’s forces trying break through Russia’s defensive lines, but Ukrainian officials say reports of such assaults are just part of Moscow’s misinformation campaign. 

Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russia-backed administration of Ukraine’s partly-occupied Zaporizhzhia province, said that fighting resumed on its border with the eastern Donetsk province on Monday after Russian defenses beat back a Ukrainian advance the previous day. 

“The enemy threw an even bigger force into the attack than yesterday (Sunday),” Rogov said, adding that the new attempt to break through the front line was “more large-scale and organized.”

Yet, officials in Kyiv say any claims of a Ukrainian military attack are not true, according to The Associated Press. 

UKRAINE IS READY TO LAUNCH LONG-AWAITED COUNTEROFFENSIVE, ZELENSKYY SAYS 

This photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Monday, June 5, 2023 shows a Russian self-propelled gun firing towards Ukrainian positions at an undisclosed location. (AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also told Reuters that Ukraine now has enough weapons for a widely anticipated counteroffensive against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces, but would not comment when asked if such a military effort has begun. 

Russia’s Defense Ministry yesterday claimed it beat back a “large-scale” assault at five locations within the Donetsk province, with spokesman Igor Konashenkov alleging in a video that 250 Ukrainian troops were killed and 21 armored combat vehicles, 16 tanks and three infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed. 

“The enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front,” Konashenkov said. “The enemy did not achieve its tasks. It had no success.” 

However, in response, the Center for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram that Russia’s military is “stepping up their information and psychological operations.” 

PUTIN ‘BUTCHER’ THREATENS TO CUT SHORT UKRAINE CAMPAIGN IF ‘CLOWNS’ IN MOSCOW KEEP CALLING SHOTS 

Russian air force Ukraine mission

This photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Monday, June 5 shows a Su-25 ground attack jet of the Russian air force firing rockets during a mission over Ukraine. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP)

“In order to demoralize Ukrainians and mislead the community (including their own population), Russian propagandists will spread false information about the counteroffensive, its directions and the losses of the Ukrainian army. Even if there is no counteroffensive,” read a statement from the center on Telegram. 

Elsewhere in Europe Monday, Russia’s military began holding naval drills in the Baltic Sea, a day after U.S. and NATO members kicked off their own exercises in the region. 

The Russian exercises, which involve up to 40 ships, 25 aircraft and around 3,500 personnel, are expected to last until June 15, according to Reuters. 

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Ukraine military vehicle attacked, Russia says

This photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Monday, June 5, 2023, show a Ukrainian military vehicle being hit during combat in Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the Russian military fended off an attempt by Ukraine to launch an attack in the southern part of the Donetsk region on Sunday. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP)

The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, said the 52nd iteration of Baltic Operations, which is “NATO’s premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region,” began Sunday in Tallinn, Estonia, and will run until June 16. 

“Nineteen NATO nations, one NATO partner nations, 50 ships, more than 45 aircraft, and 6,000 personnel will participate in BALTOPS 23,” it said, adding, “Though Finland has long participated in BALTOPS as a critical partner, BALTOPS 23 marks the first incorporation of Finland as a NATO Ally.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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