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The Russian Ministry of Defence has claimed that Ukraine launched a “large-scale offensive” in the south of the Donetsk region.

Ukraine is attempting an information blackout on any possible offensive – but what evidence is there online?

Sky News’ data and forensics team has been monitoring videos posted to social media and various Russian war reporters that cover the conflict.

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Russian sources are reporting that Ukraine has launched attacks around specific settlements in Donetsk.

Each point on this map relates to a specific location described in reporting and this area matches where the Russian Ministry of Defence has claimed the Ukrainian offensive is taking place.

One post claimed that Ukrainian forces made gains into Novodonetske, which is just behind the currently assessed frontline in the south of Donetsk.

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Another said that up to 10 armoured Ukrainian vehicles conducted a successful offensive on the nearby settlement of Zolota Nyva.

These individual reports cannot be confirmed by Sky News.

There is some visual evidence of fighting in the areas of South Donetsk from recent days that can be verified.

This video was released today by the Russian MOD, claiming to show the destruction of Ukrainian equipment.

It features multiple vehicles and explosions but due to the image quality it is hard to conclude much else.

It can be geo-located to the same area of Donetsk as the reported offensive based on distinctive natural landmarks and fields seen in satellite imagery.

It is one of four videos that Sky News has verified today.

Russian military bloggers have reported that there is activity in the Bakhmut area. There has been ongoing fighting in this area and it’s unclear from posts if these reports are of increased intensity.

Hanna Malyar, a deputy minister of defence of Ukraine, wrote on her Telegram channel earlier today that the “Bakhmut direction remains the epicentre of hostilities” and that the Russians have been claiming the counteroffensive is underway “because they need to divert attention from the defeat” in the area.

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5:34

What will influence Ukraine offensive?

One Russian blogger reported that fighting has taken place to the south-west of Bakhmut and Soledar, a mining town north of Bakhmut, is under heavy artillery fire.

Most online posts about specific locations are from Russian sources.

This will be due to a Ukrainian campaign for an information blackout online for anything relating to a potential offensive.

This was publicised today with the tagline: “Words are very unnecessary. They can only do harm”.

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