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Putin says Russia sees ‘lull’ in Ukrainian counteroffensive


(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said in remarks shown on Russian state television on Wednesday that Moscow had seen a “lull” in Ukraine’s counteroffensive, and that Kyiv had suffered heavy losses in attacks in the south.

His comments came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his army’s progress was “slower than desired” but that Kyiv would not be pressured into rushing it.

Putin has begun speaking with increasing frequency about the battlefield situation, perhaps reflecting the fact that the 16-month-old war has reached a critical moment with the launch of Ukraine’s long-expected push.

“Oddly enough, at the moment we are seeing a certain lull. This is due to the fact that the enemy is suffering serious losses, both in personnel and equipment,” he said.

But he said that Ukraine’s offensive potential “has not yet been exhausted, there are also reserves that the enemy is thinking about where and how to introduce”.

For the second time in less than a week, he said that the Ukrainian forces had “no chance”.

The BBC quoted Zelenskiy as saying in an interview that the military push was not going easily because 200,000 square km (77,220 sq miles) of Ukrainian territory had been mined by Russian forces.

“Whatever some might want, including attempts to pressure us, with all due respect, we will advance on the battlefield the way we deem best,” he added.

Ukraine says it has reclaimed eight villages so far in its counteroffensive, though only one of these was in the past week.

Contradicting Putin’s statement about a lull on the battlefield, British defence intelligence said on Twitter on Wednesday that “intense fighting continues in sectors of southern Ukraine”.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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