Ukraine has officially launched its counteroffensive

Zelensky's comments come after days of denials from other Ukrainian officials.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
DONETSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 18: Ukrainian soldiers fire targets on the front line in the direction of the city of Ugledar, Donetsk, Ukraine as Russia-Ukraine war continues on April 18, 2023. Heavy weapons are being used in the direction of Ugledar city, which is known as the front where the heaviest tank clashes are occurred. (Photo by Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Ukrainian soldiers fire targets on the front line in the direction of the city of Ugledar, Donetsk, Ukraine as Russia-Ukraine war continues on April 18, 2023. (Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The long-expected Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia is underway, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed today. 

“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine: at which stage I will not talk in detail,” Zelenskyy said on Saturday, June 10. Zelensky made the comments from Kyiv, speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a joint news conference.

The operation is targeted on Russian-controlled areas in Ukraine’s south and east, particularly around the Zaporizhia region and the city of Bakhmut, the latter of which has become a focal point in the war. Al-Jazeera English journalist Charles Stratford, reporting from near Bakhmut, said on Saturday that the city is under Russian control, but Ukrainian forces are pushing closer in the north and south. 

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Zelensky’s comments come after days of Ukrainian defense officials denying the operation had begun. Several officials have either refused to comment to multiple outlets or outright said the counteroffensive was not underway. 

Ukraine has been dealing with the fallout of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, which has flooded approximately 230 square miles of the country and displaced thousands. Both sides of the war have accused the other of destroying the dam. American spy satellites detected an explosion on the dam before it fully collapsed, the New York Times reported, but U.S. intelligence has not determined who was behind the blast. Ukraine has accused Russia of targeting people fleeing the floodwaters. 

Fighting in the counteroffensive over the last several days has been intense, and Ukraine is heavily utilizing Western-supplied arms, vehicles and tanks. Some of those have already been damaged or outright destroyed in the fighting, including German Leopard 2 tanks and American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in the southern Zaporizhia region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Friday that the counteroffensive was underway, but going poorly for Ukraine. Speaking from Sochi, Putin said that Ukrainian losses exceed the “classic” rate that attacking forces suffer. 

“But the Ukrainian troops haven’t achieved their stated tasks in a single area of fighting. We are seeing that the Ukrainian regime’s troops are suffering significant losses,” Putin said on Friday, before Zelensky made his comments confirming the operation had begun. 

Speaking in Kyiv with Trudeau, Zelensky issued a clear rebuttal to Russia.

 “It’s interesting what Putin said about our counteroffensive. It is important that Russia always feels this: that they do not have long left, in my opinion,” Zelensky said.

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