Russia Claims Destruction of Ukrainian Tanks in Zaporizhzhia, as Zelensky Alludes to Counteroffensive

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Moscow said on Thursday, June 8, that its troops had destroyed Ukrainian armored vehicles that advanced on Russian forces near Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, claiming that Kyiv had finally begun the counteroffensive in southeastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian defense ministry said on Sunday that it would not publicly announce the start of the much-anticipated counteroffensive. However, in his nightly address on June 8, President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned two locations in Zaporizhzhia Oblast as he praised the military’s efforts.

Storyful has not verified the types of vehicles seen in the footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Thursday afternoon. The ministry referred to them simply as armored vehicles, but Russian military bloggers have claimed at least one Leopard main battle tank was destroyed.

Russian military reporter Sasha Kots, along with Russian commander Maj General Ivan Popov, claimed on Thursday that Ukraine’s new 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade was among the units fighting in Zaporizhzhia. The 47th was trained in the United Kingdom and fields upgraded T-55 main battle tanks, along with American M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, according to the brigade and Ukrainian media reports.

Russian defense minister Sergey Shoygu said on Thursday that Ukraine had attempted to break through Russian lines in Zaporizhzhia at 1:30 am with 1,500 people and 150 armored vehicles. Russia has claimed to have thwarted all Ukrainian advances, but there is no independent confirmation of any of the outcomes.

Earlier, he claimed that the counteroffensive had begun on June 4.

On Tuesday, Zvezda News, which is associated with the defense ministry, said Russian forces had destroyed a Leopard tank, but gave no further information.

On Tuesday, Bohdan Krotevych, chief of staff of the Azov Brigade, suggested the counteroffensive was looming, posting, “you’re goddamn right” in response to another tweet. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense via Storyful