- Written by Lawrence Peter
- BBC News
The US government said that Ukrainian forces had made “remarkable progress” in their attack on heavily fortified Russian positions in the south.
White House spokesman John Kirby said that these gains were achieved during the past 72 hours south of Zaporizhia.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN that Ukrainian forces are advancing, but it is a “difficult battle.”
Russia claims to have taken control of strategic heights near the city of Kobyansk in northeastern Ukraine.
None of these claims have been independently verified.
Kirby said Kiev itself acknowledged that progress in the south – aimed at dividing Russia’s land corridor to Crimea – had been slower than expected.
“They had some success against the second line of Russian defenses,” he added.
Earlier in the week, the Ukrainian army said it had taken control of the village of Robotyn in the Zaporizhya region.
In the northeast, Russia mobilized its forces to reclaim territory liberated by Ukraine east of Kharkiv.
In the south, Russia is believed to have built an elaborate system of trenches and tunnels, defended by minefields, as well as artillery positions and so-called “dragon’s teeth” concrete anti-tank barriers.
Kiev launched its counterattack after obtaining more advanced weapons from its allies in the West and preparing attack battalions.
But progress has been slow, and Kiev continues to urge NATO countries to hand over tanks, mine-clearing equipment and warplanes, particularly US-made F-16 fighter jets.
On Thursday, Kuleba expressed his anger at those who criticized the pace of Ukraine’s counterattack.
“I recommend to all critics to be silent, to come to Ukraine and try to free one square centimeter themselves,” he said during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Spain.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russian forces seized Crimea and much of Ukraine’s Donbass region in 2014.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has launched its own attacks on mainland Russia. Three Ukrainian drones targeted and destroyed the bridge linking the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland in the early hours of Saturday morning, Russian officials said.
Russia’s victory in World War II proved their nation was invincible, President Putin told students on Friday, at the start of the school year.
“I understood why we won the Great Patriotic War,” he said in a lecture aimed at promoting patriotism in schools. “It is impossible to defeat this kind of nation with this kind of attitude. We were absolutely invincible. We are the same now.”
The Kremlin’s so-called “important talks” were introduced in schools after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion.
The Russian military also announced on Friday that it had put a new strategic nuclear missile system called Sarmat “into combat service.”
Long-range missiles have multiple warheads. Their spread has not been independently confirmed.
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