Russian President Vladimir Putin this week claimed Ukraine’s counteroffensive is failing, saying Kyiv has failed to achieve any success.
“This is a large-scale counteroffensive, using reserves that were trained for this purpose, it has been underway since the 4th of June and is still underway, right now,” Putin said Tuesday at a meeting with war correspondents.
“[Ukrainian troops] have not reached the front line,” Putin said, claiming that “the adversary was not successful in any sectors. They have huge losses.”
Ukraine in turn says it has liberated several settlements in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. President Zelensky said Tuesday that “there is advancement in different areas,” but there are also reports Russia is contesting several villages that Kyiv claimed to have retaken. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said there are “extremely fierce” battles.
Commenting on Telegram, Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian fighters had advanced up to 500 meters in the Bakhmut area over the past 24 hours, and up to 350 meters in the Zaporizhzhia area in southern Ukraine.
“Our troops are moving in the face of extremely fierce battles, aviation and artillery superiority of the enemy,” Maliar said Wednesday.
She said fighting was continuing near the village of Makarivka in the direction of the southern port city of Berdiansk, as well as in the areas of Novodanylivka and Novopokrovsk in the Mariupol direction.
In other news, the Ukrainian port city of Odesa was the target of a Russian missile strike that left three people dead and at least 13 injured, according to officials. The region of Donetsk was also targeted, leaving three civilians dead and others wounded.
At least three people died after shelling destroyed seven homes and damaged dozens more in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka on Wednesday, according to a Telegram post from Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk province.
The Associated Press reported that the Ukrainian presidential office said a missile hit the Ukrainian-controlled city of Kramatorsk, where Kyiv’s forces are headquartered. The office said that strike killed two civilians and wounded two others while damaging 29 homes.
Meanwhile, Russian shelling in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka in Ukraine killed one civilian, with 57 houses damaged, it added.
Nearly 3,000 people evacuated from Kherson region following dam attack
Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Telegram that approximately 2,757 people have been evacuated in the Kherson region following the attack on the Kakhovka dam last week.
The ministry said that about 263 children and another 77 people with limited mobility were evacuated from the rising flood waters.
According to the data collected by the agency, more than 3,000 houses were flooded in the Kherson region.
EU mobilizing support to after the Kakhovka dam destruction
The destruction of Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine has led to devastating humanitarian and ecological consequences. While evacuations of affected populations are underway, Ukraine has requested international EU assistance in the form of equipment and machinery for relief efforts. In an immediate response, the EU is already channeling aid via its Civil Protection Mechanism thanks to first offers from Germany, Austria and Lithuania. Germany has offered 5,000 water filters and 56 generators, and Austria 20 water containers and 10 mud water pumps, which are now on their way to Ukraine. In addition, Lithuania and Germany have also offered shelter equipment, including tents, beds and blankets.
“The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center is in direct contact with the Ukrainian emergency services to monitor the exact needs on the ground, and stands ready to coordinate further assistance into Ukraine based on the emerging needs. At the same time, the EU’s humanitarian office in Ukraine is coordinating with its humanitarian partners to rapidly respond to the needs of those affected by flooding, including by providing food assistance and drinking water,” the EU announced.
Russian parliament backs army recruitment of criminals for Ukraine conflict
The lower house of Russia’s parliament said Wednesday it had voted to give its initial backing to legislation that will allow the Defense Ministry to sign contracts with suspected or convicted criminals to fight in Ukraine.
More than 15 months into what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Moscow, whose forces have suffered heavy losses, is trying to recruit more soldiers for what is Europe’s largest land war since World War II.
Under the proposed changes, a contract could be concluded with someone being investigated for committing a crime, who is having their case heard in court, or after they have been convicted but before the verdict takes legal effect, according to the database of the State Duma, the lower house.
People convicted of sexual crimes, treason, terrorism or extremism would not be able to sign up.
Those who do sign up would be exempt from criminal liability upon completion of their contract or if they receive awards for their combat prowess.
The Wagner mercenary group was previously allowed to recruit convicts from prisons to fight in Ukraine but said in February it had stopped. Prison rights activists say the Defense Ministry has taken over the process but wanted to make changes.
The new changes being examined by the Duma do not cover recruitment of people already serving their sentences. The Defense Ministry has not commented.