Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire a self-propelled multiple rocket launcher at a position near a frontline in the Donetsk region on August 27. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

The White House said it has seen reports that Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive against Russian forces in southern Ukraine, but does not wish to comment further on specific Ukrainian military operations, said coordinator John Kirby. communications from the National Security Council.

Kirby noted, however, that regardless of the size, scale and scope of the latest counteroffensive, the Ukrainians “have already had an impact on Russian military capabilities.”

“Because the Russians had to pull resources out of the east just because of reports that the Ukrainians might be more offensive in the south,” Kirby said. “And so they had to wear down some units…in some areas of eastern Donbass, to respond to what they clearly believed was an imminent threat of a counter-offensive.”

Kirby also said that Russia “continues to have manpower problems” in Ukraine and is trying to expand its recruitment of fighters inside Russia as well as “incentivize” some of their conscripts. and contract soldiers to serve beyond their deadlines.

This is “because they face manpower challenges – manpower challenges that are not made easier by the way they have had to respond to reports of a potential counteroffensive. Ukrainians,” Kirby said.

Kirby also said that “the idea of ​​going on the attack is not new to Ukrainians.”

“Now, I recognize that what we’re talking about here is the potential for a major counteroffensive, which is different from the offense in a more localized way,” Kirby said. But he said Ukrainian forces “have been leading the fight against the Russians inside” Ukraine for some time now, including in the early months of the war around the capital Kyiv.

“So it’s not a new development for them to do this,” Kirby said.

What Russia says: Moscow acknowledged the Kyiv counteroffensive in southern Ukraine on Monday, but said Ukrainian troops “suffered heavy casualties” and “failed miserably” in their “attempt” to offensive.

Ukrainian forces on Monday “attempted an offensive in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions from three directions,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding, “following the active defense of the troop grouping Russians, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine suffered heavy losses.”

The ministry said that during the fighting, 26 Ukrainian tanks, 23 infantry fighting vehicles, nine other armored fighting vehicles were destroyed and two Su-25 attack aircraft were shot down.

“Another attempt at offensive actions by the enemy failed miserably,” he concluded.