Zelensky Confirms Shift in War: 'Pass This On to Putin'

President says Ukraine has begun its counteroffensive against Russia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 10, 2023 11:27 AM CDT
Zelensky Confirms: Ukraine's Counteroffensive Has Begun
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Ukrainian soldiers as he visits the Wall of Remembrance, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday June 10, 2023.   (Valentyn Ogirenko/Pool via AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that counteroffensive and defensive actions were underway against Russian forces, asserting that his top commanders were in a "positive" mindset as their troops engaged in intense fighting along the front line. The Ukrainian leader, at a Kyiv news conference alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, responded to a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin's comment a day earlier that Ukraine's counteroffensive had started—and Ukrainian forces were taking "significant losses." Zelensky said that "the counteroffensive, defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine. I will not speak about which stage or phase they are in," per the AP. "I am in touch with our commanders of different directions every day," he added, citing the names of five of Ukraine's top military leaders. "Everyone is positive. Pass this on to Putin."

Trudeau, the first foreign leader to visit Ukraine since devastating floods caused by a breach in a Dnieper River dam, offered up monetary, military, and moral support for Ukraine. He pledged $500 million in new military aid, on top of $8 billion that Canada has already provided since the war began in February 2022, and announced $10 million for humanitarian assistance for the flood response. Trudeau said the dam's collapse was "a direct consequence of Russia's war," but he didn't blame Moscow directly. Ukraine's General Staff said Saturday that "heavy battles" were ongoing, with 34 clashes over the previous day in the country's industrial east. It gave no details but said Russian forces were "defending themselves" and launching air and artillery strikes in Ukraine's southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

At the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, which is occupied by Russian forces, five out of six reactors were already in a state of cold shutdown. Energoatom, the Ukrainian nuclear agency, said in a statement late Friday that there was "no direct threat" to the Zaporizhzhia plant due to the breach of the Kakhovka dam further down the Dnieper River, which has forced thousands of people to flee flooding and also sharply reduced water levels in a reservoir used to help cool the facility. Nearly one-third of protected natural areas in the Kherson region could be obliterated by the flooding, the Ukrainian environmental minister warned Saturday. In the city of Kherson, whose outskirts were among the flood-hit areas, the average water level decreased by 12 inches overnight, but remained over 15 feet higher than usual, regional Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin reported Saturday.

(More Ukraine stories.)

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