What’s going on with Ukraine’s counteroffensive?

The Russia-Ukraine war has been going on for about 16 months at this point.

What’s going on with Ukraine’s counteroffensive?
Ukrainian service members are seen on their position at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine June 18, 2023. Reuters/Anna Kudriavtseva

The backstory: The Russia-Ukraine war has been going on for about 16 months at this point, and Ukraine has been holding out. Everyone has been expecting a Ukraine counteroffensive against Russia to begin this spring. Its allies and enemies alike have been anticipating something to start soon for weeks. But Ukraine has been keeping its plans and moves under wraps to make sure its strategy isn’t given away.

The development: It looks like Ukraine’s counteroffensive has finally launched, with its early stages opening up within the past couple of weeks as Ukraine tries to recapture occupied land. According to a new assessment from the British government, the counteroffensive actions are leading to high military casualties on both sides.

The numbers also say that Russian losses are likely at their highest since the bloodiest part of the fight for Bakhmut back in March. Those casualties seem to be centered in the south. But, the UK Defense Ministry’s report also said Russia’s defense has also been “relatively effective.”

Ukraine has been able to make a few smaller gains from its efforts, though, recapturing the Piatykhatky village in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. On Sunday morning, Ukraine said that Russia is still throwing a lot behind its own offensive in Ukraine’s east.

Key comments:

“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine. At what stage, I will not say in detail,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a news conference earlier in June.

“The enemy’s ‘wave-like’ offensives yielded results, despite enormous losses,” Russian-installed official Vladimir Rogov in Zaporizhzhia said on his Telegram channel, referring to Ukraine retaking the village of Piatykhatky.

“The special military operation against Ukraine, against the Kiev regime, was launched to ensure the safety of the people of Donbass … Now it is practically a war between Moscow and the collective West,” said Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the state-controlled TASS news agency.