Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday (local time) that Ukraine had begun its long-awaited counteroffensive in different parts of the country in a bid to reclaim the area occupied by Russian forces. But he claimed that Kyiv’s “every attempted advance” had failed and led to heavy casualties.
Both Moscow and Kyiv reported heavy fighting and casualties in Ukraine even as the United States announced an additional $2.1 billion in security assistance for Kyiv, including air defence and ammunition capabilities.
Let us now look into the latest developments which have unfolded so far in the Russia-Ukraine war, which broke out in February last year:
- Three Russian cities close to the border with neighbouring Ukraine came under attack by drones. A state of emergency was declared in the southern Russian city of Voronezh after a drone hit an apartment building, officials said.
Drones also fell on an office building in Belgorod and near an oil depot in Kursk. No serious damage was reported in those cities.
- The drone attack in Voronezh was declared a “terrorist act” with Russia’s state Investigative Committee initiating a criminal case against “persons acting in the interests of the military-political leadership of Ukraine”.
Russia, last month, said it had shot down or diverted eight Ukrainian drones in an attack on several districts of Moscow. According to a Ukrainian presidential aide, Kyiv denied their involvement in the Moscow drone attacks but stated it was “pleased to watch events” and warned of more strikes, Reuters reported.
- Putin spoke about the Ukraine counteroffensive and said although it had “certainly” begun, it was not able to make any advances as Moscow responded to every attack by Kyiv.
“All counteroffensive attempts made so far have failed. But the offensive potential of the troops of the Kyiv regime is still preserved,” he said.
Ukrainian troops said they made advances in Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May after nearly a year of combat fighting on the ground, the deadliest in Europe since World War II. As the fighting raged, some German and US tanks and armoured vehicles were sighted for the first time.
- According to the Russian defence ministry, attacks in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions were repelled, leading to over 1,000 Ukrainian casualties and the destruction of armoured vehicles and tanks. However, the ministry did not give any evidence for its assertions.
The ministry said Ukrainian troops attacked Russian lines four times with two battalions supported by tanks just south of Velyka Novosilka in Donetsk, but were pushed back, Reuters reported.
- The US Department of Defence on Friday announced an additional $2.1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including critical air defence and ammunition capabilities.
The package includes additional munitions for Patriot air defence systems, HAWK air defence systems and missiles, 105mm and 203mm artillery rounds, Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems, Laser-guided rocket system munitions, and support for training, maintenance, and sustainment activities.
“This Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) package illustrates the continued commitment to both Ukraine’s critical near-term capabilities as well as the enduring capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term,” the Defence Department said in a statement.