The Ukrainian army has launched its long-awaited counter-offensive, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The counter-offensive has “begun,” said the Kremlin boss in a video interview.
The Ukrainian army has launched its long-awaited counter-offensive, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The counter-offensive has “begun,” said the Kremlin chief on Friday. However, the Ukrainian army “did not achieve its goals”. Meanwhile, the United States pledged more military aid to Ukraine.
“We can definitely say that this Ukrainian offensive has started,” Putin said in an interview with a reporter from Russian state television, published on Telegram. The fighting has been going on for five days. However, the Ukrainian troops did not achieve their goals “on any of the battlefields,” the Kremlin chief said. On the contrary, the Ukrainian troops had suffered “considerable losses”.
All previous Ukrainian attempts at a counter-offensive have failed, Putin said. Nevertheless, Ukraine, which is now equipped with modern Western equipment, still has offensive capabilities.
According to information from Moscow, there has recently been heavy fighting, mainly in southern Ukraine. On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that in the past 24 hours Ukrainian forces had “continued to attempt an offensive” in the Donetsk region and in the Zaporizhia region. But they were decisively repulsed by “armed forces, air force and artillery”. From Kiev it was said that the focus of the fighting was still in the east of the country.
For months, Ukraine has announced a counter-offensive to push back Russian troops from Ukrainian territory. At the same time, however, the country’s authorities had declared that there would be no announcement about the start of this offensive. Observers, however, see the escalation in fighting in southern Ukraine as evidence that Kiev’s counteroffensive has begun or is about to begin.
Meanwhile, the United States has pledged $2.1 billion in new military aid to Ukraine. According to the US Department of Defense on Friday, the armaments package includes additional ammunition for the Patriot air defense system, Hawk air defense systems and associated missiles, and artillery ammunition. Puma drones and laser-guided missile system ammunition are also to be delivered.
Meanwhile, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia wants to build a drone factory with Iranian help. “This factory could be fully operational early next year.” The “Russian-Iranian military partnership appears to be deepening,” Kirby said. Russia has already received hundreds of drones from Iran in the war against Ukraine. So far, these have been built in Iran and then delivered to Russia via the Caspian Sea.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian and pro-Russian authorities reported at least 13 deaths from floods in Ukraine triggered by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. Eight people were killed in the Russian-occupied territories, according to authorities deployed by Moscow. Five people were killed in the floods in Ukrainian-controlled territory, Ukrainian authorities said.
The Kachowka Dam on the Dnipro River in Russian-occupied territory was destroyed on Tuesday night, and large amounts of water escaped. Thousands of people had to leave their homes. Kiev and Moscow accuse each other of being responsible for the incident.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has praised his armed forces for their “heroism” after Russian statements on the start of Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive. “For our soldiers, for everyone who is in particularly hard fighting these days. We see your heroism and we are grateful to you for every minute of your life,” said Zelenskyy in his daily address on Friday evening.
1,500 soldiers and 150 armored vehicles
In addition, the Russian army announced on Friday that it had launched several attacks on the southern Ukrainian front fended off. The fighting there had intensified significantly this week in anticipation of a larger Kiev offensive.
“During the past day, the Ukrainian armed forces continued their attempts to conduct offensive operations in the direction of southern Donetsk and Zaporizhia,” the Russian army said. However, these were “resolutely” repelled by the Russian troops and the Russian Air Force.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Ukrainian forces tried to break through Russian army lines in the Zaporizhia region. They would have used up to 1,500 soldiers and 150 armored vehicles.
Schoigu’s claim could not be directly verified. But the Zaporizhia region has long been considered the most strategic and likely location for the new Ukrainian campaign. There were also reports of non-stop shelling on the Twitter account „War Translated“.
Earlier in the past few days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials have signaled that they have collected enough Western military aid for a major counteroffensive against Russian forces. However, he did not give an exact date for the offensive. It is therefore controversial whether the announced major offensive has already started.
“Counteroffensive is great disinformation,” says Lukashenko
According to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the “broadly announced counter-offensive by the Kiev regime is pure disinformation,” according to a report by the Russian news agency „Tass“ emerges.
What his country would have observed would be consistent with the information provided by the Russian President. According to this, about three dozen advancing Ukrainian tanks and 120 or 130 armored personnel carriers were repelled within three days. More than 2,100 Ukrainians were killed.
According to Lukashenko, this is not a counter-offensive. He announced this at a meeting in Minsk to members of the Committee of Secretaries of the Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. “[…]but if there is, this is the result of three days,” he added.
The Inspector General of the German Armed Forces, Carsten Breuer, also thinks that the war would be over without arms deliveries. For him, however, one thing is certain: “If the West had not supported it with arms, the war would have ended, but Ukraine would be under the yoke of Russia. The war would be over, but the suffering would continue,” he said on Friday in Nuremberg at the Protestant Church Congress.
Yevgeny Prigozhin requested 200,000 troops
After reports from Russia and Belarus that the Ukrainian counter-offensive at Zaporizhia had been repelled, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin spoke up on his Telegram channel.
The Russian Wagner boss said in the online service Telegram that he considered the alleged news from Moscow and Minsk to be implausible, according to a report by “Frankfurter Rundschau”. Referring to the lying baron Münchhausen, he described Moscow’s reports as “wild fantasy”.
previously have Yevgeny Prigozhin wrote on his Telegram channel: “I think that the events that are now taking place at the front are the beginning of a counter-offensive by Ukraine.” Moscow therefore requested 200,000 soldiers. In his opinion, the Wagner Group is the only armed force that can stop the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Ukraine war. (afp/il)