- Ukraine said Monday that its forces launched a military offensive in multiple directions in the south.
- It said an offensive push broke through some front-line Russian defenses near the occupied city Kherson.
- The move possibly signals the start of a long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Ukraine says its forces have launched a major military offensive against Russian positions in multiple directions in the country's southern region on Monday, possibly signaling the start of a long-anticipated counteroffensive.
"The Armed Forces of Ukraine have breached the occupiers' first line of defense near Kherson," Ukraine's strategic communications center, part of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, said in a statement. "They believe that Ukraine has a real chance to get back its occupied territories, especially considering the very successful use of Western weapons by the Ukrainian army."
A US defense official supported the idea that a counteroffensive appears to be underway in remarks to the New York Times, noting that Ukraine seems to have an "appetite for progress on the battlefield," but the official added that the Pentagon questions whether or not Ukraine can make substantial gains.
"This is the long-awaited counteroffensive operation," the former Ukrainian leader told CNN. "It was started today at 7:00 am with shelling and missiles attack."
"This is first time since February 2022 when such a concentrated of Ukrainian troops with Western artillery and with Western HIMARS and Western missiles was collected together for this counterattack," he said, according to CNN's Jim Sciutto.
Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine's southern command, confirmed that Ukraine has launched offensive operations in the south.
"Yes, (Ukrainian forces) have started the offensive actions in several directions on the South front towards liberating the occupied territories," she told CNN. "All the details will be available after the operation is fulfilled."
Monday's reports potentially signal the start of Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive along the war's southern front near Kherson, which was the first major city to fall to Russian forces in early March. Ukraine has been telegraphing such a move for months, but it hasn't materialized.
The war has become a slow-moving and bloody conflict in eastern and southern Ukraine, but for weeks, Ukrainian forces have been advancing on Kherson with the aim being to ultimately reclaim captured territory occupied by Russia. In Kherson, a growing resistance movement has turned to guerrilla tactics by working with Ukraine's military to stage attacks against pro-Russia assets.
Earlier this month, officials and experts assessed that a counteroffensive might be costly and difficult for Ukraine but would be a significant achievement for the country.
The possible counteroffensive comes amid heightened tensions in southern Ukraine, especially at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — located east of Kherson along the Dnipro River. The plant has seen fighting nearby, leading watchdog groups to strongly warn that there's potential for a major nuclear disaster.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Monday that the "day has come" for the watchdog agency to send a team to "protect the safety and security" of the plant, which will arrive later this week.