World: Zelenskyy promises no let up in counter-offensive against Russia

Ukrainian soldiers advance 30 miles in 3 days in Kharkiv amid major counter-offensive

  Ukrainian soldiers advance 30 miles in 3 days in Kharkiv amid major counter-offensive Ukrainian soldiers on the northeastern front lines have made progress over the last several days by advancing 30 miles in three days according to defense officials.The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that Ukraine had officially begun the long-awaited major counter-offensive with some progression being reported along Ukraine’s front lines in the north and the south near Kherson.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has promised there will be no letup in Ukraine’s campaign to regain territory lost to Russia.

The pledge on Sunday came as the United Kingdom said Russian forces were stepping up raids on civilian infrastructure and a top United States general warned it was unclear how Moscow would react to its battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces would keep up the pressure on Russia.

“Perhaps now it seems to some of you that after a series of victories we now have a lull of sorts,” he said in his nightly video address. “But this is not a lull. This is preparation for the next series… Because Ukraine must be free – all of it.”

'Full security is being restored,' Ukraine President Zelenskyy tells his nation

  'Full security is being restored,' Ukraine President Zelenskyy tells his nation Pressure is piling up on retreating Russians as Ukrainian troops press deeper into occupied territory, consolidating the swathes of recent gains. © Reuters Ukrainian soldiers burn a Russian flag in Vovchansk. Pic: State Border Service of Ukraine As the advance continued, Ukraine's border guard services said the army had taken control of Vovchansk - a town just two miles (three kilometres) from Russia, and perhaps crucially for morale, one that was seized on the first day of the war. © Reuters Ukrainian flags have been raised over battle-scarred buildings.

The Ukrainian military said its forces had repelled attacks by Russian troops in the areas of the Kharkiv region in the east and Kherson in the south where Ukraine launched counter-offensives this month, as well as in parts of neighbouring Donetsk. It said Ukrainian troops had advanced to the eastern bank of the Oskil River in Kharkiv region.

“From yesterday, Ukraine controls the east bank,” it said on Telegram.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the neighbouring Luhansk region, said this meant the “deoccupation” of his region was “not far away”.

As Russian shells hit towns and cities over the weekend, the British defence ministry warned that Moscow was likely to increase attacks on civilian targets as it suffers battlefield defeats.

Russia orders troops to withdraw from front line positions after shock Ukrainian advance

  Russia orders troops to withdraw from front line positions after shock Ukrainian advance Russia has ordered its troops to withdraw from two front line positions in eastern Ukraine in the face of a shock advance by Ukrainian forces. © Other Soldiers of the 1st battalion of Ukraine's 92nd brigade in front of the city council of Kupiansk The retreat on Saturday marked the most significant gain for Ukraine's military since they defeated a Russian attempt to conquer the capital, Kyiv, back in March. "The Russian army in these days is demonstrating the best that it can do - showing its back," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video released by his office Saturday night.

“In the last seven days, Russia has increased its targeting of civilian infrastructure even where it probably perceives no immediate military effect,” the ministry said in an online briefing. “As it faces setbacks on the front lines, Russia has likely extended the locations it is prepared to strike in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government.”

US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meanwhile called for vigilance after visiting a base in Poland supporting Ukraine’s war effort. His remarks were a reminder of the risks of escalation as the US and its NATO allies aid Ukraine from a distance.

“The war is not going too well for Russia right now So it’s incumbent upon all of us to maintain high states of readiness, alert,” he said after his trip to the base, which reporters travelling with him were asked not to identify.

Russia’s losses in Ukraine are fuelling a new enemy of far-right ideologues

  Russia’s losses in Ukraine are fuelling a new enemy of far-right ideologues A growing belief that domestic enemies are to blame for recent Russian losses could be putting the nation on dark and dangerous path.They want Putin to escalate the war, use more devastating weapons, and hit Ukrainian civilians even more mercilessly. And they’ve openly attacked the Russian military and political leadership for supposedly holding back Russia’s full might — even as they rarely mention Putin by name.

Putin, Biden warnings

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, has brushed off Ukraine’s swift counteroffensive and said Moscow would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure.

Such repeated threats have raised concerns Putin could at some point turn to small nuclear weapons or chemical warfare.

US President Joe Biden, asked what he would tell Putin if he was considering using such weapons, replied in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It would change the face of war unlike anything since World War Two.”

Some military analysts have said Russian might also stage a nuclear incident at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plantm which is held by Russia but run by Ukrainian staff. Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling around the plant that has damaged buildings and disrupted power lines needed to keep it cooled and safe.

Police and experts work at a mass burial site discovered after Russians were pushed back by Ukrainian forces [Gleb Garanich/ Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera Police and experts work at a mass burial site discovered after Russians were pushed back by Ukrainian forces [Gleb Garanich/ Reuters]

A top Vatican envoy reportedly came under fire in Zaporizhzhia city on Saturday as he was helping in the distribution of humanitarian supplies there. The incident forced Vatican Almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski and others to take cover, the Vatican news service said on Sunday. It reported no injuries.

Ukrainian flag raised as Zelenskyy visits retaken Izyum

  Ukrainian flag raised as Zelenskyy visits retaken Izyum Russian forces left the city last week as Ukraine pressed forward in a sweeping counteroffensive.Ukraine says it has seized some 8,000 square kilometres (4,970 square miles) of territory in the country since the beginning of the month, most in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv region.

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t know where to run. Because it is not enough to run, you have to know where to go,” said the Polish-born cardinal, whose office makes charitable contributions in the pope’s name.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, reported continued shelling across a wide stretch of the country.

Russian fire killed four medics attempting to evacuate a psychiatric hospital in the Kharkiv region on Saturday, said governor Oleh Syniehubov. Two patients were wounded in the attack in Strelecha, he said.

Overnight shelling also hit a hospital in Mykolaiv, a significant Black Sea port, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said. And five civilians were killed in Russian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region over the past day and in Nikopol, further west, several dozen residential buildings, gas pipelines and power lines were hit, according to regional governors.

Separately, the pro-Russian separatist forces that control much of Donetsk accused Ukraine of shelling a prisoner-of-war colony in Olenivka, and said one prisoner was killed and four were wounded in the attacks.

Al Jazeera could not verify the battlefield reports independently.

‘Still scared’

In areas retaken from Russian forces, returning Ukrainians were searching for their dead relatives.

Russian forces targeting civilian infrastructure as Ukraine continues counteroffensive, UK says

  Russian forces targeting civilian infrastructure as Ukraine continues counteroffensive, UK says Russia is attempting to "directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people" by targeting civilian infrastructure, the UK Ministry of Defense said."As it faces setbacks on the front lines, Russia has likely extended the locations it is prepared to strike in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government," the UK said in an intelligence update, noting that Russia has attacked civilian targets "even where it probably perceives no immediate military effect.

In Izyum, where Ukrainian officials said they had found 440 bodies at a forest grave site, Volodymyr Kolesnyk was trying to match numbers on wooden crosses with names on a neatly handwritten list to locate relatives who he said were killed in an air raid early in the war. Kolesnyk told the Reuters news agency that he got the list from a local funeral company that dug the graves.

“They buried the bodies in bags, without coffins, without anything. I was not allowed here at first. They [Russians] said it was mined and asked to wait,” he said.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Kharkiv are accusing Russia of torturing civilians in one village that was recently freed. In an online statement, they said they found a basement where Russian forces allegedly tortured prisoners in Kozacha Lopan, near the border with Russia. In images they released, they showed a Russian military TA-57 telephone with additional wires and alligator clips attached to it. Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of using the Soviet-era radio telephones as a power source to shock prisoners during interrogation.

It was not immediately possible to verify the Ukrainians’ claims.

Elsewhere in the region, residents of towns recaptured after six months of Russian occupation were returning with a mixture of joy and trepidation.

“I’ve still kept this feeling, that any moment a shell could explode or an airplane could fly over,” said Nataliia Yelistratova, who travelled with her husband and daughter 80 km (50 miles) on a train from Kharkiv to her hometown of Balakliya to find her apartment block intact, but scarred by shelling.

“I’m still scared to be here,” she said after discovering a piece of shrapnel in a wall.

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