Kyiv, Ukraine (CNN) — With just a few words and a cleverly produced military propaganda post, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces raised speculation that a long-awaited counteroffensive by Kyiv against occupying Russian forces could be imminent.
“The time has come to take back what is ours,” wrote General Valerii Zaluzhyhi.
The text appears below a video just over a minute long showing Ukrainian forces apparently training at dawn.
Some are seen using German tanks and American artillery and rocket launchers, the type of weaponry Kyiv would use in a possible operation to drive Russian forces out of Ukrainian territory.
The video ends with the soldiers and their commander chanting a defiant message: “Ukraine, my homeland, Lord, our heavenly father, bless our decisive offensive, our holy revenge, our holy victory.”
The video surfaced online after weeks of speculation about when Ukraine would start its counter-offensive, or even if it arguably has already started.
Despite its language, Zaluzhyni’s post made no explicit mention of an impending military operation, and few details have been reported about specific troop and weapons buildups, though it should be noted that any such report would likely violate the Ukrainian martial law restrictions.
Both Russia and Ukraine are known to engage in disinformation campaigns to confuse enemy forces.
The counteroffensive itself has seemed imminent a handful of times in the past month.
The Ukrainian military has been seen moving military equipment toward the front lines and carrying out strikes against Russian targets that could facilitate an offensive, including attacks on Thursday and Saturday in the Russian-occupied southern port city of Berdiansk.
The Kremlin said on Saturday that, in the past 24 hours, its forces had shot down 12 Ukrainian drones flying over Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia, a trio of Ukrainian territories that are partially occupied by Russian forces.
Russia says its air defenses also intercepted several rockets and long-range cruise missiles. Also on Saturday, there were explosions in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol.
A senior US official confirmed to CNN in early May that Ukraine began conducting “shaping” operations, attacking targets such as weapons depots, command centers, and armored and artillery systems to shape the battlefield in favor of of the advance of the Kyiv forces. Shaping is a standard tactic used before major combined operations, but it can be used simply to confuse the enemy.
The Ukrainian official is keeping the details of the operation secret, even if it has already started or not. It is likely an attempt to confuse the Russian army.
The incursion into Russia earlier this week by pro-Ukrainian Russian units, a bold move that caused Moscow much embarrassment, was also likely aimed at forcing the Kremlin to reposition its forces outside of Ukraine to better defend relatively exposed borders. From Russia.
There are also public relations factors at play. He declares that the counteroffensive is underway and the clock will immediately tick the first results. Avoid doing so, and any escalating losses Russia takes will only be considered part of normal front line attrition.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said in april that Kyiv would not announce the start of the counteroffensive, and Ukrainian officials have kept quiet ever since.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky left some hints about the possible operation and has repeatedly refused to give specific details about the timing.
Earlier this monthZelensky said his country still needed “a little more time” to allow more Western military aid to be delivered.
And on Thursday of this week, just two days before the Telegram post of General Zaluzhnyi’s arrest, one of Zelensky’s top advisers insisted that the world should not be waiting for any particular moment.
The counter-offensive, Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted, “is not a ‘one-off event’ that will start at a specific time on a specific day with a solemn cutting of the red ribbon.”
CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Vasco Cotovio and Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report.
Source: CNN Espanol