Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday a counter-offensive was underway when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Kiev and criticized Russia for flooding from the breached Kakhovka dam.
“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine: at what stage I will not talk in detail,” Zelensky said at a joint press conference in Kiev with Trudeau.
Zelensky responded after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Kiev’s long-anticipated counter-offensive had already failed.
Russia has reported that it has thwarted Ukrainian attacks in the east and south.
“It’s interesting what Putin said about our counter-offensive. It’s important that Russia always feels this: that they don’t have long, in my opinion,” Zelensky said.
He added that he was in daily contact with military commanders, including Armed Forces Chief Valery Zaluzhny, and “everyone is positive now – tell Putin!”
Trudeau, 51, and Zelensky, 45, embraced and used each other’s first names as the Canadian leader made his second unannounced visit to Kiev since the outbreak of all-out war last February.
Canada, which is home to a large number of Ukrainian expatriates, has been one of Kiev’s main allies since the Russian invasion.
It has provided significant military aid to Ukraine, trained more than 36,000 soldiers and passed sanctions against Moscow.
– ‘Direct consequence’ –
Trudeau on Tuesday denounced Russia’s role in the destruction of the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine.
Flooding from the breached dam has forced thousands to flee their homes and fueled fears of humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.
Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up the dam, while Moscow says Kiev fired at it.
In his daily speech, Zelenksy condemned the international community’s “shameful indifference” to the consequences of the dam’s destruction, including its failure to “form and send a rescue mission to the occupied territory” or “come out with clear and strong statements in which he committed this latest Russian war crime.”
He urged international organizations to come to the aid of the people in the Russian-occupied territories.
Trudeau pledged 10 million Canadian dollars (US$7.5 million) in new funding for flood relief, saying the dam’s destruction was the “direct result” of Russia’s invasion.
“There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that the destruction of the dam was a direct result of Russia’s decision to invade a peaceful neighbor,” Trudeau said, adding that Russia “will be held accountable for his actions in Ukraine.
– Pilot training –
The Canadian leader said he would provide $500 million in new funding for military aid to Ukraine.
He also promised that Canada would be part of the multinational effort to train Ukraine’s fighter pilots.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau placed flowers near a memorial wall depicting the faces of fallen soldiers as a military orchestra played.
He also visited an open-air exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Polishchuk handed Trudeau a box that he said contained shrapnel from a missile that fell on the Black Sea port of Odessa.
He said the gift was to remind Trudeau of Ukraine’s suffering from Russian attacks.
– Iran must ‘end aid to Russia’ –
Three people were killed early Saturday in a fire started by debris from shot down Russian drones in the Odessa region.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi to “immediately end” Tehran’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, supplying Moscow with attack drones, according to the Elysee.
Macron stressed in a phone call the serious “security and humanitarian consequences” of Iran’s drone deliveries “and urged Tehran to immediately end its support for Russia’s offensive war against Ukraine.” said a statement.
The call came a day after White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Russia was receiving materials from Iran to build a drone factory on its territory that “could be fully operational early next year.” .
The United States has said Russia received hundreds of Iranian attack drones to attack Kiev and “terrorize” Ukrainians, a charge that Tehran denies.
According to US data, the drones are built in Iran, transported across the Caspian Sea “and then used operationally by Russian forces against Ukraine,” Kirby said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)