Zelenskiy: Counteroffensive operations are underway in Ukraine

  • Kyiv enforces strict operational silence
  • Zelensky confirms ‘counter-offensive and defensive measures’
  • The Ukrainian leader says his commanders are in a ‘positive mood’
  • According to the Ukrainian official, no announcement has been clarified

KYIV, June 10 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged on Saturday that his military was engaged in “counter-offensive and defensive operations,” a day after Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin said Kiev’s long-term push to retake the region was going well.

But the Ukrainian leader did not divulge any details, telling reporters that his commanders were confident of Putin.

Sporting his trademark khaki fatigues, Zelenskiy shrugged when asked about Putin’s comments at a press conference on Friday that Kyiv had launched its counteroffensive but made no progress.

“Counter-offensive and defensive operations are taking place in Ukraine, but I will not elaborate on what stage they are at,” Zelensky said, naming Ukraine’s top military personnel.

“They (the generals) are all in a positive mood. Send that to Putin,” he said with a smile, flanked by visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He said Putin’s comments on the counteroffensive were “interesting…it’s important that Russia always realizes this: they don’t have long in my opinion.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had made “unsuccessful” attempts in the past 24 hours to launch an offensive in the southern Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions – two areas that have been the subject of heavy fighting.

The ministry also noted the eastern city of Bagmut, which Moscow says was captured last month after 10 months of fierce fighting.

Reuters could not independently verify the situation on the battlefield.

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In his late-night video address, Zelensky again offered few details, while urging troops to keep fighting.

“Thank you to everyone who is holding their posts and everyone who has stepped forward,” he said, citing the eastern and southern fronts where the fighting is most intense.

Ukraine’s civil servants said its forces repelled enemy attacks around Pakmut and the long-besieged city of Marinka. Russian forces, it said, “continue to suffer heavy losses which they try to hide”.

General Oleksandr Chirsky, commander of the ground forces, who is in operational control of the counteroffensive, posted a picture on social media of an explosion that he said was destroying a group of Russian soldiers near Pakmut.

Ukrainian military spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi reported new gains near Bakhmut.

“We are trying to…attack the enemy, we are counter-attacking. We have advanced up to 1,400 meters (0.87 miles) in various sectors of the front,” Serewati said.

Ukraine has said it has been planning a major counteroffensive for months. But it refused to initiate the main action.

Due to the paucity of independent reports from the frontline, it is difficult to assess the state of the fighting.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Ukraine had carried out “significant” operations in several eastern and southern areas in the past 48 hours, and that Russian defenses had been breached in several areas.

Some developments: British ministry

“In some areas, Ukrainian forces have made good progress and may have penetrated the first line of Russian defenses. In others, Ukrainian progress is slow,” it said, adding that the Russian military’s performance was mixed.

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“Some (Russian) units are conducting credible maneuver defense operations, while others have retreated in some ruckus, amid reports of increased Russian casualties as the Russians retreat through their own minefields.”

Ukraine’s counteroffensive is expected to use thousands of troops trained and armed by the West, but Russia has built massive fortifications in the occupied territory, while Kyiv lacks air superiority.

The south is seen as a key strategic priority for a Ukrainian push aimed at recapturing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and cutting a Russian land bridge to the occupied Black Sea peninsula, separating Russian forces.

Oleksiy Hetman, a Ukrainian military analyst, told NV Radio that the events of recent days were just the beginning.

“What is happening now can be called ‘espionage at war’ – the first phase of the attack,” Hedman said. “It was impossible to advance in depth. The objective was to check the enemy’s defenses. Let’s wait a few days and see.”

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Felix Hoske; Editing by Alex Richardson, Andrew Cawthorne, Mike Harrison, Ron Popsky and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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