Blast near Dnipro leaves 20 injured; Zelenskiy says Ukraine is ready to launch counteroffensive; Prigozhin says Kremlin factions are destroying Russia
Twenty people including five children were injured from an explosion that hit a two-storey residential building near the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Saturday, the regional governor said. Rescuers pulled residents out from under the rubble, Serhiy Lysak said, posting online that three of the children were in serious condition. A total of 17 people were being treated in hospital. Reports on social media said a Russian missile caused the blast and that an emergency services building was also hit.
Ukraine is ready to launch its long-awaited counteroffensive to recapture Russian-occupied territory, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview published on Saturday. The Ukrainian president said: “We strongly believe that we will succeed. I don’t know how long it will take … but we are going to do it and we are ready.”
Ukraine’s plans for the counteroffensive remained on track, the deputy defence minister, Volodymyr Havrylov, told Reuters on Saturday, despite the “unprecedented” wave of missile and drone attacks across the country in recent weeks.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive plan is “very impressive” and can succeed, Gen David Petraeus told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding that the Ukrainians were “determined to liberate their country”. Petraeus, who has headed the CIA and led international forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been in Kyiv recently, meeting Volodymyr Zelenskiy and others.
Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has said Kremlin factions are destroying the state by trying to sow discord between him and Chechen fighters. He said on Saturday that a dispute between him and Chechen forces had been resolved. But the Wagner chief blamed the discord on unidentified Kremlin factions, which he calls “Kremlin towers”.
Two people were killed and two injured by Ukrainian artillery fire on Russia’s Belgorod region on Saturday, said the governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov. He wrote on Telegram: “Since this morning, settlements in the Shebekino urban district have been under fire from the Ukrainian armed forces.” Ukraine has denied attacking Belgorod, saying Russian rebels are responsible.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said he was ready to send fighters to the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine and has come under intense shelling.
Kyrgyzstan’s president has said his ex-Soviet republic was ready to work with the EU. Sadyr Japarov, whose country is an ally of Moscow, said on Saturday: “Kyrgyzstan is ready to work hand in hand with the European Union to resolve shared problems, encourage dialogue and find lasting solutions.”
Indonesia’s defence minister, Prabowo Subianto, has proposed a peace plan for the war in Ukraine, calling for a demilitarised zone and a UN referendum in what he called disputed territory. However, the proposal was dismissed by Ukraine.
The Kremlin has banned western journalists from “Russia’s Davos”. The Kremlin said journalists from “unfriendly countries” would not be allowed into the St Petersburg international economic forum, which begins on 14 June and which President Vladimir Putin has used to showcase the Russian economy to global investors.
The forced deployment of once-elite Russian VDV troops to Bakhmut amid the withdrawal of Wagner mercenary forces means “the whole Russian force is likely to be less flexible in reacting to operational challenges”, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.
During an inspection of more than 4,800 shelters, 252 were locked and a further 893 “unfit for use”, the Ukrainian interior ministry said through its press service. Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on Saturday that the capital’s authorities had received more than 1,000 complaints regarding locked, dilapidated or insufficient air raid shelters within a day of launching an online feedback service.
Russia has said it will come back to full compliance with the New Start nuclear arms control treaty if Washington abandons its “hostile stance” towards Moscow, Russian news agencies reported, citing the deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov.Continue reading...