Zelenski admits counter-offensive, but does not reveal details

It is unclear whether the actions relate to a major counterattack that kyiv has been promising for months. British Ministry of Defense talks about ‘progress’ of Ukrainian forces, and Moscow says Ukraine ‘has not achieved its Ukrainian objectives’ on the front, without specifying whether this is the big counterattack prepared by Kiev several months ago.

“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine, and I won’t go into details,” Zelensky told a news conference. “You have to have confidence in the military and I have confidence in them,” he added.

Ukraine’s top military leaders “are all in good spirits,” Zelensky told reporters as he sat next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who made a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Also on Saturday, the spokesman for the Ukrainian army’s “Eastern” command, Sergii Cherevaty, said on television that Ukrainian troops had managed to advance 1.4 kilometers around Bakhmut in the east, territory claimed by Moscow in May.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the major Ukrainian counteroffensive to drive troops out of Moscow had already begun. According to Putin, the Ukrainian army did not “achieve its objectives” during the attacks and suffered heavy losses.

The Ukrainian authorities, on the other hand, have played down the scale of the fighting on the front in recent days, without however disclosing the details of their strategy, fearing to injure their troops on the ground.

While Kyiv has not provided many details, international observers have noted a significant increase in military actions in recent weeks, after months of hints of a major counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces against entrenched Russian positions.

The destruction this week of the Nova Kakhova dam, with Russia and Ukraine blaming each other, could also have derailed any Ukrainian plans to launch an amphibious assault on the Dnipro.

The British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that the Ukrainians “had made good progress and penetrated the first line of Russian defence” in some areas in the south of the country. “In others, Ukraine’s progress has been slower,” he added.

Justin Trudeau makes a surprise visit to Kyiv

In Kyiv, Trudeau announced C$500 million ($1.8 billion) in military aid to Ukraine.

“We will be with Ukraine as long as it takes, for as long as it takes,” he told Zelensky.

He also said Canada would seize a Russian-owned Antonov cargo plane that is stuck at Toronto airport and hand it over to Ukraine.

Trudeau traveled to Kyiv accompanied by Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent and speaks the language.

Zelenski thanked Trudeau and the Canadian Parliament for their help since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

“We are very grateful for everything they have done for us, for our people, for the refugees, for our army,” he said.

Trudeu had visited Ukraine in May last year. Canada is home to one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the world and has provided Ukraine with military and financial aid since the start of the war.

Russia reacts after the closure of the Icelandic embassy

Also on Saturday, Russia said it would respond to Iceland after the country announced it would close its embassy in Moscow, becoming the first country to do so.

“The decision taken by the Icelandic authorities to reduce the level of diplomatic relations with Russia destroys the full extent of Russian-Icelandic cooperation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We will take this hostile decision into consideration when building our relationship with Iceland in the future. Any anti-Russian actions from Reykjavik will inevitably be followed by a corresponding reaction.”

On Friday, Iceland’s foreign ministry said it would suspend operations at its embassy in Moscow because trade, cultural and political relations were at a “historic level” between the two countries. The embassy is due to close on August 1.

Three dead in drone attack

Three people have been killed and at least 26 injured after a Russian drone attack in the Ukrainian region of Odessa, the Ukrainian army announced on Saturday.

Although the drones were shot down by Ukrainian forces, debris hit a building, starting a fire.

Separately, the Ukrainian Air Force said Russia launched at least 35 drones and eight missiles against targets in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the US has said the Russian-Iranian military partnership appears to be “deepening”. The White House said Moscow had received hundreds of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), from Iran to attack Ukraine.

Reports suggest the drones were built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea and used by Russia.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the United States is concerned that Moscow is working with Tehran to manufacture Iranian drones inside the Russian border. A satellite image released by the White House shows the location of a future drone factory in Russia.

Iran claims the drone transfers took place before Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow, for its part, denies the deployment of Iranian drones in Ukraine.

the (Lusa, AP, AFP, DPA, Reuters)

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Julia Fleming

"Prone to fits of apathy. Beer evangelist. Incurable coffeeaholic. Internet expert."

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