Ukraine’s frontline troops are trying to break through Russian lines in the south of the country, a Kremlin-appointed official in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region has told state news agency RIA Novosti.
Vladimir Rogov said Ukraine’s armed forces were trying to advance but had not yet had any success, according to RIA.
In a series of posts on Telegram on Thursday morning, Rogov said the Ukrainians had been “hitting the positions of our guys for many hours with artillery and HIMARS.”
He said the assault was aimed at forcing Russian troops to “flee” their positions.
Ukraine shelled the occupied town of Tokmak overnight, destroying two houses, Rogov said in a separate post. He urged civilians there to leave for the southern port of Berdyansk, which lies further into Russian-held territory.
Later in the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian forces repelled four overnight attacks in the region.
Shoigu said there was a two-hour battle after Ukrainian forces attempted to break through Russian defenses at 1:30 a.m. local time “with the forces of the 47th Mechanized Brigade, numbering up to 1,500 people and 150 armored vehicles.”
CNN cannot independently verify Shoigu’s claims, which were posted by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Telegram.
Some context: Ukrainian officials have been tight-lipped about Kyiv's plans for its long-anticipated counteroffensive, though there have been signs in recent weeks that the effort is nearing.
Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, put a cryptic message on his Telegram channel on Thursday.
“The weather for the Russo-fascists in the Zaporizhzhia direction is hot summer days and nights in the still occupied Tokmak,” Fedorov said. “The occupiers did not sleep today until two in the morning.”