Ukrainian attacks continue in the crucial southern Zaporizhzhia region, according to Russian officials and military bloggers who report intense combat in the area.
According to reports, Ukrainian forces supported by tanks, artillery, and drones are attempting to advance south of Orikhiv for the second consecutive night.
A senior Ukrainian military official stated that the adversary was "actively defending."
Several military experts have stated that Zaporizhzhia will be the focal point of the long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive.
They contend that Kyiv is attempting to regain access to the Sea of Azov by dividing the occupying Russian forces in the region into two distinct groups. This would reduce their combat effectiveness.
Earlier on Thursday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in the United States reported that Ukraine's counteroffensive had begun, despite Kyiv's silence.
In the meantime, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense reported that "in the midst of a highly complex operational picture, heavy fighting continues along multiple front sectors."
It added that "Ukraine holds the initiative in most areas."
As soon as President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion in February 2022, Russia seized most of the Zaporizhzhia region, including Europe's largest nuclear power facility.
Ukraine controls the regional capital, the city of Zaporizhzhia.
Several pro-Kremlin Russian military bloggers reported Thursday evening that Ukraine had resumed its attacks overnight.
They reported the deployment of armored personnel carriers and drones for directing artillery fire.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed local official, reported "active fighting" between Orikhiv and Tokmak, with Russian troops maintaining their positions.
Many military experts view the town of Tokmak as a crucial objective for Ukraine as it endeavors to advance to the Sea of Azov.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the previously reported Ukrainian assault was repelled, causing damage to the adversary. The minister offered no evidence to support his assertion.
Similarly, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated in a brief statement on Thursday that Russian forces were presently "in active defense" in the direction of Zaporizhzhia.
In its most recent Thursday evening bulletin, the Ukrainian military stated only that the "enemy remains on the defensive" in Zaporizhzhia and neighboring Kherson, a region devastated by significant flooding this week following the collapse of a major dam.
The Ukrainian military added that Russian forces had conducted airstrikes and used artillery throughout the day.
Ukraine has been planning a counteroffensive for months, but it has wanted as much time as possible to train its troops and acquire advanced military equipment from its Western allies.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told the BBC last month that Kyiv was prepared to commence the attack without specifying a date.