Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday announced “counter-offensive actions” by his army on the front, without confirming whether this was the major offensive Kiev had been preparing for months.
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The Ukrainian authorities maintain vagueness about their strategy while the Russian military reports six days of massive attacks, including with equipment launched by the West, on its positions, particularly in southern Ukraine.
“Offensive and defensive counter operations are taking place in Ukraine and I will not go into detail about them,” Mr. Zelensky said during a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on a surprise visit to Ukraine.
“You have to trust our soldiers and I trust them,” he added.
He questioned the Ukrainian head of state about comments made by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who assured reporters on Friday that the major Ukrainian counteroffensive expected for months had “begun”.
However, Mr. Putin added that “all counter-attack attempts undertaken so far have been unsuccessful,” citing losses of “the order of three (Ukrainians) for” one Russian, while stressing that Kiev has retained its “offensive potential.”
Destroy a shield
Mr. Zelensky on Saturday simply called for Vladimir Putin’s words not to be trusted.
On Friday evening, the Ukrainian president praised the “heroism” of his country’s soldiers, who fought “particularly intense battles.”
If the Ukrainian authorities seemed to put the scale of the fighting into perspective, the Russian military again reported in its daily report on Saturday about attacks by Kiev forces in the Zaporizhia (south) and Donetsk (east) regions, particularly near the devastated city. Bakhmut, which Moscow claimed full occupation in May.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has published a video showing a column of destroyed Western-made tanks and armored vehicles, some of which are still burning in the southern Donetsk region.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the “Eastern” command of the Ukrainian army, Sergio Cherifati, confirmed on television that the Kiev forces managed to advance 1,400 meters around Pakhmut.
On the diplomatic front, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday in the Ukrainian capital blamed Russia for the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in southern Ukraine. A catastrophe caused the flooding of dozens of towns and villages on both banks of the Dnieper River.
He said on the side of Mr. Zelensky, without accusing Moscow of being the cause of the explosion that destroyed the dam, for which the two camps refuse responsibility.
According to the latest report by the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior, five people died and 27 are missing in Ukrainian controlled areas due to this sudden rise in water levels. The Russian occupation authorities, in turn, denounced at least eight deaths.
Evacuations of local residents took place on both sides of the Dnieper, each side accusing the other of continuing to bombard the flooded areas.
According to the Ukrainian census, 78 towns were flooded, 14 of them in the occupied territories.
Also in the south, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port of Odessa was once again attacked by a drone at dawn, killing three people and wounding 26, according to authorities.
Russia also promised on Saturday to “respond” to Iceland’s closure of its embassy in Moscow, which became the first country to take such a step since the war began in February 2022.
But Reykjavik stressed that this decision does not mean severing diplomatic relations with Russia.