Ukraine has broken through Russia’s first line of defence in several places, 48 hours after launching its long-awaited counter-offensive, the Ministry of Defence has said.
Ukrainian forces have “likely made good progress” and forced Russia into a disorderly retreat in some places, though it may be struggling in other areas, the MoD said.
“In some areas, Ukrainian forces have likely made good progress and penetrated the first line of Russian defences. In others, Ukrainian progress has been slower,” it said.
It added that Russia’s performanced has been mixed too.
“Some units are likely conducting credible manoeuvre defence operations while others have pulled back in some disorder, amid increased reports of Russian casualties as they withdraw through their own minefields,” it said.
Follow the latest developments below.
Russia says Iceland ‘destroys’ ties by suspending embassy operations
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said that Iceland’s decision to suspend its embassy operations in Moscow “destroys” bilateral cooperation.
Iceland said on Friday the operations would be suspended from August 1 due to an “all-time low” level of commercial, cultural and political relations between the countries, adding that it had asked Russia to scale back its diplomatic activities in Reykjavik.
“The decision taken by the Icelandic authorities to lower the level of diplomatic relations with Russia destroys the entire range of Russian-Icelandic cooperation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive mapped by ISW
Trudeau makes surprise visit to Kyiv
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Saturday, his second trip to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February last year.
Mr Trudeau paid his respects at a memorial site in central Kyiv to Ukrainian soldiers who have been killed fighting pro-Russian forces since 2014.
“Welcome to Ukraine Mr. Prime Minister,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk tweeted, alongside a photograph of them shaking hands on the platform of a train station.
Ukraine dam disaster risks contamination from sewage and rotting carcasses
Several hundred tonnes of oil were washed into the Dnipro river, while groundwater sources are believed to have become polluted, writes Harriet Barber
A “plague” of rotting animal carcasses, contamination from cemeteries, and sewage could lead to serious disease outbreaks in flood-hit areas of Ukraine, health officials have warned.
The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam sent 4.8 billion gallons of water cascading across the war zone of southern Ukraine on Tuesday. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the attack, which has forced tens of thousands to leave their homes.
Several hundred tonnes of oil were washed into the Dnipro river, while groundwater sources are believed to have become polluted. The reservoir had provided clean water to 700,000 people.
The Ukrainian health ministry has told locals not to consume water drawn from wells and ground pumps, as is common in rural areas of Ukraine.
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Ukraine faces `hugely worse’ humanitarian situation after dam rupture, says UN aid chief
The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is “hugely worse” than before the Kakhovka dam collapsed, the UN’s top aid official warned on Friday.
Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths said an “extraordinary” 700,000 people are in need of drinking water and warned that the ravages of flooding in one of the world’s most important breadbaskets will almost inevitably lead to lower grain exports, higher food prices around the world, and less to eat for millions in need
“This is a viral problem,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But the truth is this is only the beginning of seeing the consequences of this act.”
Last reactor shut down at Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant as fighting, flooding continues
Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency says it has put the last operating reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into a “cold shutdown” — a safety precaution amid catastrophic flooding from the collapse of the Kakhovka dam.
Russian forces continued pummelling the country with missiles and drones overnight, with Ukrainian officials reporting at least four deaths and damage to a military airfield.
Five out of six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, are already in a state of cold shutdown, in which all control rods are inserted into the reactor core to stop the nuclear fission reaction and generation of heat and pressure.
Russian airforce unusually active over southern Ukraine, says MoD
In pictures: Latest scenes from the war
Three killed in Odesa region drone attack
Three people were killed early on Saturday in a fire sparked by falling debris from shot-down drones in the region of Odesa in southern Ukraine, regional officials said.
“At night, the enemy attacked Odesa Region with attack drones,” regional authorities said in a statement social media, referring to Russian forces.
Ukraine’s air defence forces destroyed all the unmanned aerial vehicles but their falling debris hit a high-rise residential building, sparking a fire, the statement said.
Ukrainian forces claim to have gained more ground near Bakhmut
Kyiv said there had been heavy fighting in the eastern region of Donetsk on Friday, and a military spokesperson said Ukrainian forces had gained more ground near the devastated city of Bakhmut.
Russia says Ukraine’s counteroffensive has failed so far. Ukraine has not said the counteroffensive has actually begun – nor is it likely to – although the consensus among military analysts seems to be that it has.
With virtually no independent reporting from the front lines and Kyiv saying little, it was impossible to assess whether Ukraine was penetrating Russian defences in its bid to drive out occupying forces.
‘Dnipro river should return to its banks by June 16 after dam collapse’
The southern reach of the Dnipro river is likely to return to its banks by June 16 following a vast flood unleashed by the breach of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam this week, a Russian-installed official said on Saturday.
The flood has inundated towns and villages below the dam, trapping residents and sweeping away entire houses on both sides of the Dnipro, which separates Ukrainian-controlled Kherson province from the southern section that Russian forces control.
Vladimir Saldo, who heads the Russian-controlled part, said the water level at Nova Kakhovka, the town adjacent to the dam on the downstream side, had now dropped by 3 metres (10 feet) from Tuesday’s peak.
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