Zelenskyy visits allies in Europe and UK as Ukraine prepares counter-offensive

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Russian Defense Ministry saying on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had made «massive attempts to break through the defenses of our troops» north and south of Bakhmut, but said none of them were successful. He also said that two of his commanders had been killed repelling Ukrainian attacks on a town near Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, kyiv praised its defenders but remained cautious.

«The advance of our troops in the direction of Bakhmut is the first success of offensive actions during the operation for the defense of Bakhmut,» Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian land forces, said. saying in a statement on Telegram Monday. “However, this is only a partial success,” Syrskyi noted.

Whether that partial success represents the start of something bigger or an isolated counterattack remains to be seen.

“It seems likely that we are in the preliminary or ‘shaping’ stages of Ukraine’s long-awaited ‘spring’ offensive. In that sense, Ukraine has indeed begun its attack: but what we are seeing are the initial stages designed to create uncertainty,» said Christopher Tuck, a conflict and security expert at King’s College London.

«Russian forces have created extensive fixed defenses along the front line, but they can’t handle all of those defenses adequately because the front is so long,» Tuck told NBC News.

«Therefore, a key part of the Ukraine battle plan will be to try to mislead the Russian forces about the possible point of attack,» he added. «While it is not impossible that Donbas is the intended attack point, it is just as likely that Ukrainian operations around Bakhmut are intended to concentrate Russian efforts there in preparation for a Ukrainian offensive elsewhere.»

Reuters, Associated Press and nancy contributed.

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