The Ukrainian counteroffensive is gaining ground slowly but surely on the southern and eastern frontlines, claimed the country’s military officials today. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had said earlier that his army still had a lot of its military resources in reserve to carry on with the counteroffensive against Russia. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday went out for a public meet-and-greet, just hours after his military killed at least 11 civilians in a missile attack on the eastern city of Kramatorsk and just a few days after the Wagner militia revolt was quelled.
According to the news agency Reuters, the Ukrainian commander-in-chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, told Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, that Ukraine had managed to seize “the strategic initiative”. A social media post by Zaluzhnyi said: “Ukraine’s defence forces are proceeding with their offensive action and we have made advances. The enemy is offering strong resistance, while sustaining considerable losses.” The Russian side tends to usually counter these claims by stating that it is the smaller nation that is facing heavy losses.
The Russian missile hit on a Ukrainian pizza restaurant in Kramatorsk killed three teenagers and a baby among the 11 dead, and left 56 injured. The restaurant was packed, making the casualty figure high when it was hit by two Iskander missiles on Tuesday night. The Guardian reported that the restaurant was “popular with civilians and international journalists”.
Emergency response teams were seen looking through the debris for survivors on Wednesday. Among the dead were 14-year-old twins Yulia and Anna Aksenchenko; a 17-year-old girl; and a baby.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general Andriy Kostin told the media that the Iskander ballistic missiles had a very small margin of error — just “5-7 metres when equipped with a homing system” — which would indicate that the missile strikes on the restaurant were intended, and not by mistake.
A Russian attack also impacted a shopping mall in Kremenchuk this week. A post by Zelenskyy said: “Exactly on the anniversary of the [Russian] terrorists’ attack on Kremenchuk, on the shopping mall, when 22 people were killed, [Russian] savages again fired missiles at the Kremenchuk district.”
The post added: “Today, [Russian] terrorists also brutally shelled Kramatorsk. S-300 missiles. Unfortunately, there are killed and wounded. Assistance is being provided. The rubble is being cleared.”
Following the Kramatorsk and Kremenchuk attacks, the White House National Security Council, United States of America, put out a statement: “We condemn Russia’s brutal strikes against the people of Ukraine, which have caused widespread death and destruction and taken the lives of so many Ukrainian civilians.”
Kremlin stuck to its position that the Russian side was only hitting Ukrainian military targets. “The Russian Federation does not strike at civilian infrastructure. Strikes are carried out on objects that are connected with military infrastructure in one way or another,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.