Ukraine's Armed Forces have begun "shaping operations" ahead of the long-awaited counteroffensive, CNN reported on May 12, citing a senior U.S. military official and a top Western official.
Shaping, a standard tactic developed before major joint operations, involves attacking targets such as weapons depots, command centers, armored vehicles, and artillery systems to prepare the battlefield for the advancing force.
Ukrainian forces made a similar move during their previous counteroffensive in the country's south and east last summer, preceded by airstrikes to form the battlefield, CNN wrote.
According to the U.S. military official, these shaping operations could last for days before the main part of any planned Ukrainian offensive. Such operations can also be conducted to confuse the enemy.
Late on May 11, several Russian military bloggers reported that Ukraine had allegedly started the counteroffensive and gained some positions in Donetsk Oblast's Bakhmut. Russian Defense Ministry denied such claims, saying "the general situation remains under control."
On May 12, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said that Ukrainian soldiers had advanced two kilometers toward the key eastern city of Bakhmut and hadn’t lost any positions in the area this week.
Meanwhile, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military reported in its morning update that Russian forces continued offensive operations in Bakhmut.
Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as reported by BBC on May 11, that Ukraine needed "a bit more time" to launch its much-anticipated counteroffensive as the country is waiting for the delivery of pledged military aid.
The outcome of Ukraine's counteroffensive is expected to be a critical turning point in the war that will determine whether Ukraine reclaims more of its territory or is pressured by allies to meet with Russia at the negotiating table.