By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Moscow claimed Monday that it prevented a Ukrainian counter-offensive by killing 250 Ukrainian troops amid concerns in the West that its weapons were used against Russia.
The Russian defense ministry said Ukrainian forces launched the offensive in the Donetsk region that Moscow occupied. Ukraine allegedly used six mechanized and two tank battalions.
Yet Moscow-backed militia leader and Russian military bloggers admitted that Ukrainian forces had achieved a breakthrough in at least one point in southwestern Donetsk.
And Russia’s Wagner group of mercenaries leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Monday that Ukrainian forces retook part of the settlement of Berkhivka, north of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, calling it a “disgrace.”
There was also a significant escalation in fighting reported along the frontlines in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia.
Separately Ukraine’s state broadcaster reported that a 55-year-old security guard was killed by a Russian attack on a business in the port city of Kherson, citing region head Oleksandr Prokudin.
As fighting continues, Kyiv declined to confirm Monday the death toll of its troops and called for silence ahead of its imminent counter-offensive against invading Russian forces.
Ukraine has readied 12 brigades, an estimated 60,000 troops, to spearhead an attack it hopes to show it can force the Russian invaders out of Ukrainian territories.
There are an estimated 300,000 Russian troops in Ukraine, some of which has been occupied since 2014.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview that he feared “a large number of soldiers will die” and wanted more air defense systems to protect his troops.
However, there is mounting concern in the West that some of its weapons delivered to Ukraine are used inside Russia.
Belgium said it would ask Ukraine for clarification on reports that rifles made in Belgium had been used by pro-Ukrainian forces to fight Russian troops inside Russia’s western border region.
The prime minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, said Monday that his nation’s defense ministry and intelligence agencies “have started an investigation and are asking for information to determine what has happened exactly.”
He told Belgian radio that “European weapons are delivered to Ukraine under the condition that they are used on Ukrainian territory with the purpose of defending that territory. And we have strict controls in place to see that this is the case,” he said.
De Croo declined to comment on possible consequences if the reports were confirmed.
“We must not get ahead of ourselves here,” the prime minister said. “But we are analyzing the situation, and we would take this very seriously.”
Several sources said anti-Kremlin fighters launching a cross-border attack from Ukraine into the Russian Belgorod region last month used Western military equipment.
The fighters were seen in military vehicles given initially to Ukraine by the United States and Poland and carrying rifles made in Belgium and the Czech Republic.
In one of the latest incidents reported Monday, the governor of Russia’s Kaluga region, south of the capital Moscow, said two drones fell on the M3 Ukraine highway near the towns of Zhizdra and Duminichi.
There was no detonation, and investigators have cordoned off the sites, said Governor Vladislav Shapsha.
Yet it was another sign that the war was rapidly escalating.
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