Ukraine has claimed a breakthrough in breaking through the initial Russian defense lines on the southern front. The Ukrainian military has also asserted that “senior commanders” of the Russian Navy were killed or injured in a Ukrainian airstrike on the naval headquarters in Crimea.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western countries, whose military aid is vital for Ukraine, of “directly fighting” against Russia, which began its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
While the Ukrainian army’s counteroffensive, launched in June, has achieved limited territorial gains so far, it claims to have breached the initial fortified Russian defenses in the southern front, following the capture of the town of Robotyne.
“On the left flank, we have made progress and are continuing to advance,” stated Ukrainian General Oleksandre Tarnavski in an interview with CNN, acknowledging that the progress has been slower than expected.
The ongoing combat is taking place east of Robotyne, near Verbove. Tarnavski revealed that one of the Ukrainian army’s objectives is to reach the city of Tomak in the south, a significant railway hub located about 20 kilometers from the front lines.
“For now, Russian forces rely on the depth of their defense line,” explained the Ukrainian general.
He admitted that “weather conditions can pose a serious obstacle during the advance.” Nevertheless, he stated that they would continue the counteroffensive despite the arrival of winter, as it involves small units without vehicles following the losses of armored vehicles suffered in the early weeks.
This interview came a day after Kyiv bombed the Russian naval headquarters in Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014. The Ukrainian military claimed that “dozens of occupiers were killed and wounded, including high-ranking Russian fleet personnel,” in an attack that, according to Kyiv, occurred “during a meeting of Russian Navy leaders.”
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Kyiv’s intelligence service, stated in an interview with Voice of America that “at least nine people,” including generals, were killed in the attack. The AFP has not been able to verify this information.
Moscow acknowledged that one of its personnel had gone missing after the airstrike. Tarnavski emphasized that the goal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is not only to reclaim territory occupied by Russia but also to “destroy command centers” in order to “create chaos on the battlefield.”
On the diplomatic front, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced a new aid package for Kyiv worth 650 million Canadian dollars (482 million US dollars) over three years. This package includes around 50 armored vehicles and the training of Ukrainian pilots on US-made F-16 fighter aircraft.
Zelensky has faced initial hesitations from Western allies to continue providing crucial military assistance to Ukraine, from Republican lawmakers in the United States to Poland, a close ally of Kyiv, whose government stated earlier this week that it would cease supplying arms but later reversed its decision.
The Ukrainian president made an unexpected stop in Poland on Saturday afternoon to decorate two Polish volunteers. During another stop in Ireland, Zelensky met with Sudanese General Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, a meeting taking place as Kyiv seeks to increase its influence in Africa.