The claim comes as Ukraine prepares for a major counter-offensive to retake Russian-occupied territory.
Russia says its forces foiled a major Ukrainian offensive in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, killing 250 Ukrainian troops and destroying tanks and armored vehicles.
“On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors in front of the South Donetsk direction,” the Russian defense ministry said on its Telegram channel early Monday.
There was no update from Ukraine on the alleged offensive. In its update on the evening of June 4, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Moscow is focusing its military efforts on the full occupation of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
“During the day, the occupiers made 23 attacks, but all of them were repelled by units of the defense forces,” it said.
It is not possible to immediately verify the Russian or Ukrainian claims.
Russia’s defense ministry said Ukraine launched the attack with six mechanized and two tank battalions.
“The objective of the enemy is to penetrate our defenses in the weakest, in its opinion, forward sector,” the defense ministry said. “The enemy has not achieved its tasks, it has not succeeded.”
Ukraine is preparing for a counteroffensive to retake territory occupied by Russia since it began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula it seized in 2014.
But it gave mixed signals about what the counteroffensive would involve — preemptive, limited strikes to weaken Russian forces and military facilities, or a large-scale coordinated attack. along the entire 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) front line.
Russia said its forces killed 250 Ukrainian soldiers and also destroyed 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armored combat vehicles.
The ministry added that Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov “was in one of the forward command posts” at the time.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not mention the alleged attack in his late night video address on Sunday night. He said earlier that Kyiv is ready to act.
Ukraine in recent weeks has sought to weaken Russia’s positions. Late last month, a senior official said preliminary operations such as destroying supply lines or blowing up depots had begun.
A drone attack set fire to an energy facility in Russia’s Belgorod region in the early hours of Monday, and regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported several incursions by the pro-Ukrainian, anti-Kremlin Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion armed groups.
The fighters said they also captured Russian troops and would hand them over to Ukraine.
The Belgorod region borders Ukraine and has been subject to frequent shelling in recent weeks.