Russia’s defence ministry says it has thwarted a major Ukrainian attack in Donetsk, in the latest sign that a wider counter-offensive may have begun.
Video of what Russia says is the battle shows military vehicles under heavy fire in fields. Russia claims it killed 300 troops and destroyed 16 tanks.
However Moscow’s claims have not been independently verified.
And on Monday, Ukraine’s military said it had no information about a major attack in the region.
“We do not have such information and we do not comment on any kind of fake,” a Ukrainian army spokesperson told Reuters.
A major Ukrainian counter-offensive has been long awaited but Kyiv has already said it would not give advance warning of its start.
However with Ukraine claiming to have made marginal gains elsewhere on the front line, there has been a notable increase in military activity.
The latest reports are therefore being seen as a fresh sign that the expected Ukrainian push may have begun.
The Russian defence ministry said Ukraine had launched the “large-scale offensive” in the Donetsk region on Sunday using six mechanised and two tank battalions.
It claimed the Ukrainians tried to break through Russian defences in what Kyiv saw as the most vulnerable part of the front line – but that it “did not achieve its tasks, it had no success”.
If the footage of armoured vehicles coming under heavy fire is authentic, then it reflects the stiff resistance Ukrainian forces will face as they try to liberate more territory.
And if it is not what it seems, it is still an attempt by Moscow to take control of the narrative.
There has been a significant increase in Ukrainian messaging on when and how their counter-offensive could take shape.