Russians are cheering defeats of Western-made tanks. Their optimism may prove premature.

  • A terrifying video captures a Russian drone's attack on a German-made Leopard tank below.

  • Russians cheered these defeats. Some believe they are signs Ukraine's counter-offensive is a failure.

  • They may yet be disappointed. Ukraine's counter-offensive has just begun.

Scenes from the frontlines of the Ukraine War have recently looked dire for Ukraine's forces as their counteroffensive gets underway, including pile-ups of damaged or wrecked tanks and fighting vehicles.

One terrifying video captures a Russian loitering drone's attack on a German-made Leopard 2 tank below. The hit is real but the full damage isn't shown and couldn't be independently assessed.

The Leopard is among the more advanced weapons Ukraine has received from its Western backers to aid in retaking its land from Russian invaders.

Russians celebrated.

"Some prominent Russian ultranationalists claimed that damaged or destroyed Western-provided equipment indicated that Ukrainian forces failed to launch a large-scale counteroffensive," notes the Friday assessment of the Institute for the Study of War think tank, which closely tracks the conflict and the pro-Russian bloggers who shape their public's understanding of it.

Accounts and images of the hard fighting are emerging from the Zaporizhia region, where Ukraine is using some of its most powerful weapons to try to punch through Russian lines and is confronting so-called dragon's teeth positions to stop tanks, minefields, relentless artillery, electronic jamming, drones, and even airstrikes.

It is not clear if the dire scenes are coming from the fulcrum of Ukraine's counteroffensive, where casualties are likely to be highest as they attempt to press through what could be up to 20 miles of Russia's mutually reinforcing positions. As Insider's Ryan Pickrell has reported, it is in these maelstroms where even the best vehicles can be destroyed and troops killed.

"Another Russian milblogger claimed that a counteroffensive can only last up to 10 to 15 days, implying that Ukrainian counteroffensive will soon culminate," according to ISW.

That optimism may be misplaced. The counter-offensive is about six days in. Ukraine is advancing in its east and has made limited gains in Zaporizhia — gains that could be built upon in successive waves or supported via other assaults. Russia has parried some of Ukraine's attacks, but will these prove the main effort?

Only time will tell.

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