Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky appears to have confirmed that his country’s long-awaited counter-offensive against Russia has started.
“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place,” he said on Saturday.
But he added that he would not talk in detail about which stage or state the counter-offensive was in.
The comments come after an escalation of fighting in the south and east of Ukraine and speculation about progress of the widely anticipated push.
Ukrainian troops are reported to have advanced in the east near Bakhmut and in the south near Zaporizhzhia, and have carried out long-range strikes on Russian targets.
But assessing the reality on the front lines is difficult, with the two warring sides presenting contrasting narratives: Ukraine claiming progress and Russia that it is fighting off attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a video interview published Friday that Ukrainian forces had certainly begun their offensive but that attempted advances had failed with heavy casualties.
Speaking in Kyiv, after talks with the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Mr Zelensky described the Russian leader’s words as “interesting”.
Shrugging his shoulders, raising his eyebrows and pretending not to know who Mr Putin was, Mr Zelensky said it was important that Russia felt “they do not have long left”.
He also said that Ukraine’s military commanders were in a positive mood, adding: “Tell that to Putin.”
Mr Trudeau announced 500 million Canadian dollars (£297m) in new military aid for Ukraine during the unannounced visit.
A joint statement issued after the talks said Canada supports Ukraine becoming a Nato member “as soon as conditions allow for it”, adding that the issue would be discussed at the Nato Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July. (BBC)