Day 465 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv is Ready to start its Counteroffensive says Zelensky
Day 465 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Zelensky: Ukraine is ready to start its counteroffensive
- Russia announced a new offensive in Donbas
- Child's DNA leads to suspect in Nord Stream blast
- Indonesia has proposed a peace plan for the war in Ukraine
- With a call for mobilization and the death penalty, Prigozhin made a surprise tour of Russia
Zelensky: Ukraine is ready to start its counteroffensive
Ukraine is ready to start its counteroffensive in order to regain the territories occupied by Russia, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview published today for the Wall Street Journal, quoted by BTA.
"We strongly believe that we will succeed," the Ukrainian leader told the American publication.
"I don't know how long it will take. If I have to be honest, it can be done in different ways, completely different from each other. We are ready and we will do it," Zelensky pointed out.
Kyiv hopes that with its counteroffensive it will regain the occupied territories and change the dynamics of the war, notes Reuters.
Last month, Zelensky said Ukraine would wait until it received more armored fighting vehicles from the West before launching its counteroffensive. The Ukrainian leader made a diplomatic tour during which he called for continued Western support and for Ukraine to receive more military aid and weapons, which are key to the success of Ukrainian forces.
Russia continues to control large areas of eastern, southern and southeastern Ukraine.
In the past few weeks, Ukraine has been carrying out intense strikes on Russian ammunition depots and logistics routes, Reuters notes.
Russia announced a new offensive in Donbas
Russia has announced a new offensive in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Fighters subordinate to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov are advancing in the Marinka region in the western suburbs of Donetsk. The head of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said that most of his men had withdrawn from the captured eastern city of Bakhmut and would remain in the Donetsk region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered all bomb shelters to be checked after three people left on the street were killed in another Russian missile and drone attack. Residents of Kyiv report a shortage of bunkers, locked bunkers and limited access to them, Zelensky warned in his video address. The Ukrainian authorities created a commission to check the shelters, composed of representatives of the local government and the profiled services. Ukraine's Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said that more than 4,800 bomb shelters have been checked so far, and more than 250 of them have been found to be closed and nearly 900 unusable. According to the governor of Russia's Belgorod region, four people were killed in two separate Ukrainian attacks on settlements near the border with Ukraine. Two women were victims of shelling in the area of port “Maslova”. Two were killed and six were injured in a rocket attack on Sobolevka. Attacks were also reported in Bryansk and Kursk regions.
Child's DNA leads to suspect in Nord Stream blast
There are new clues in the investigation of the attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline, German media reported.
German prosecutors have been investigating "unconstitutional sabotage" on the seabed for months. The Federal Criminal Service (BKA) and the Federal Police are tasked with finding the perpetrators who destroyed the pipes at a depth of about 70 meters. For some time, German investigators have focused on a 15-meter sailing yacht: the Andromeda. It is said to have sailed from Rostock in early September. The people who apparently took her across the Baltic Sea probably presented false passports to the boat rental company. BKA later found traces of explosives on the yacht.
According to WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung research, several traces of the Andromeda hire lead to Ukraine, namely to Ukrainian military circles. It involves a travel agency in Warsaw, which apparently serves only as a cover - and a forged Romanian passport, which, according to the conclusions of German investigators, is supposed to have been used by a young Ukrainian. He, in turn, is said to have ties to the Ukrainian military. Investigators are also checking other people they believe are suspected supporters.
The BKA has searched the home of a woman who lives in Frankfurt am Oder and is most likely a partner of the young Ukrainian in question, with whom the assassination is currently linked.
The witness and the Ukrainian suspect have a child together and sometimes live together. According to information from WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung, BKA investigators also took a DNA sample from the child to compare it with DNA traces from the sailing yacht "Andromeda". They want to use it to verify that the suspect was actually on the yacht in September 2022.
In parallel with the German investigation, there are also investigations in other European countries. However, little is known about the results of the investigations there. Not long ago, the responsible Swedish prosecutor only said: "We have a very good idea of what happened at the scene and how it was carried out." In recent months, several media outlets have also reported on suspicious Russian warships that were in the vicinity shortly before the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions. In some cases these ships have turned off their signals to avoid being tracked.
German security sources claim that this type of action by Russian warships is not unusual, but takes place regularly in the Baltic Sea. However, NATO is able to track the movement of ships. German investigators have also traced these tracks by analyzing satellite images and radio recordings. However, according to them, the sailing yacht "Andromeda" represents the most concrete lead to date, although it cannot be ruled out that investigators are following leads deliberately laid by others - in other words, it is a so-called "false flag operation".
German intelligence sees little chance of clarification. The head of the Federal Intelligence Service, Bruno Kahl, stated:
"No country in this world, no intelligence agency in this world is currently able to attribute this specifically," i.e. to hold someone responsible for the crime.
Kahl said this last week at the Federal Security Policy Academy. According to him, there were "indications in all possible directions". Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit also declined to commit last week: "We can only make a meaningful statement when we have clues or hard evidence as to who is behind this crime," Hebestreit said.
Indonesia has proposed a peace plan for the war in Ukraine
Indonesia's defense minister proposed a plan to end the war between Russia and Ukraine during a defense summit in Singapore. The initiative provoked swift criticism from the participants, reported AFP.
"I call on Russia and Ukraine to proceed with an immediate cessation of hostilities," said Prabowo Subianto, noting that the more than 15-month conflict has had a serious impact on the economies and food supplies of Asian countries.
In his speech to the defense dialogue summit in Shangri-La, he proposed a ceasefire "on the current positions" and demilitarized zones to be guaranteed by UN observers and peacekeepers.
He also proposed a possible "referendum in the disputed areas" organized by the United Nations.
"Indonesia is ready to provide parts for a possible UN peacekeeping operation," he added.
China has presented its own peace plan to end the war, a vague list of proposals to which European Union politicians have reacted skeptically.
Although Beijing claims to be a neutral party to the conflict, it has been criticized for its refusal to condemn Moscow's invasion.
In contrast, the US and Western allies have provided billions of dollars in arms and other aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion.
Jakarta, which prefers non-aligned diplomacy, has previously tried to broker peace.
With a call for mobilization and the death penalty, Prigozhin made a surprise tour of Russia
Immediate mobilization, the return of the death penalty, a shift to a war economy to deal with a Ukrainian army that no longer just learned to fight, but wants to.
That's what the founder of Wagner spoke about during his surprise tour of Russia last week, around his birthday on June 1.
Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Nizhny Novgorod - once known as the "chef" of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the businessman reached the Far East, and then returned to the west, to Nizhny Novgorod on the banks of the Volga.
There he went to the hospital with the famous Russian nationalist writer Zakhar Prilepin, who suffered an assassination attempt in May after supporting Prigozhin in his battle with the Ministry of Defense.
What did the Russians hear and see on the visit, despite Prigozhin's claims that he had no political ambitions?
"Wagner. Second Front"
Prigozhin announced in Russia a project about which he himself provides scant information. "Wagner. Second Front" is an occupation that becomes possible after Bakhmut's main possession of his forces - a moment that he also uses to criticize the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense.
"Wagner" fighters are withdrawn, according to his assurance, to the rear of the Russian forces, including for rest, recovery and regrouping; the mercenaries will have left the city by June 5, where even now there are only dozens. According to Ukraine, they dispersed to three specific locations in Ukraine. The tour began days after the withdrawal was announced and shortly after he gave a provocative interview with serious repercussions.
Although details of the project are yet to be released, Prigozhin insists that his work should not be seen as the start of a political career, as he does not intend to form a party or run for president himself. Many Western media speculated about this as early as last year; then they stopped doing it when his star dimmed. Unifying between these two periods: he insists he has "zero political ambitions".
"We need much harsher punishments for war crimes," Prigozhin said. He explained that he had written "documents" on the subject (probably legislative proposals), which he had not yet sent "to the authorities" and for which he was checking how to do this without leaking the text so as to cause an "explosion" in society.
"I think that the worst punishment should be returned. Otherwise, the war cannot be won. Comrade Stalin was absolutely right (he may not have been in many cases when he shot for political reasons), but the death penalty is mandatory for war," he thinks. In his words, if "a military commissar treats heroes disrespectfully" and the court decides, there is no point in wasting blank cartridges: "reals ones are better."
In addition, "all heads of defense enterprises" must become military personnel, "so that the death penalty can also be applied to them."
Mobilization and militarization
The war will be tough and it is not known how long it will last, believes Prigozhin, who repeated his prediction that it will take two years to control Donbas, three or four for Kyiv.
This cannot be done without mobilization, and it must be universal (last year the Russian president announced "partial", although at times it went beyond the described categories. At full steam, ammunition must be produced, planned, society should be prepared from now on, so that when the time comes for mobilization, society will be ready.
As Prigozhin said during his "completely unexpected" (according to a journalist) appearance in Vladivostok:
"About the mobilization - there will be for sure. At least two million must be mobilized," said Yevgeny Prigozhin
It is now time to train the future recruits. "So that when the thunder strikes, you can fight and cross yourself and prey to god." None of this will happen without martial law (here he agreed with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who openly advocates the same).
"The country must become a military monster so that the weapons are more than in North Korea," thinks the founder of PMC "Wagner"
"Those who introduced sanctions against us will treat us well on only one condition: They will say: come, stand on your knees, bow your head. If the people are ready, they will forgive us. If they are not ready, we must prepare for a prolonged war," he continued.
Where to deploy air defense
Prigozhin was keen to show that there was a response to this week's drone attack in Moscow and to Ukrainian sabotage in Belgorod region (later shelling was also reported in another Ukrainian neighbor, Kursk). According to him, it is necessary to build three levels of air defense and fight with drones: along the entire Russian-Ukrainian border, along the entire border of the Moscow region, around Moscow. Moreover, "all of Moscow" should be jammed with radio-electronic warfare systems against drones.
The "happy grandfather" is Gerasimov
Prigozhin already offers versions by answering the riddle, who is the "happy grandfather", whom he mentioned ironically a few months ago with the assurance that for the person in question everything was fine at the front: it was about the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, "who did not give us ammunition".
"Ukrainians want to fight"
"Ukrainians not only learned to fight, but also want to fight. And what our country decided specifically on this occasion remains a mystery." These words, however, did not come out of Prigozhin's mouth, but from Zakhar Prilepin after the meeting between the two. They seem to have exchanged gifts ("an extra skull" for Prilepin, a case for a blacksmith's hammer - for Prigozhin).
"Prigozhin gave us back humor and Bakhmut"
In a subsequent publication, Prilepin called it "a symbol of the possibility of independent politics and independent political rhetoric"; praised him for bringing back the "Russian language and humor" to politics, and for "bringing back Bakhmut" and the belief that one cannot resist the Russians (the word used is "русские", instead of the nationally inclusive "россияне").
"We live in a world of illusions"
Prigozhin called for the media to stop saying that the war was going well and "one Russian tank kills 500 enemies".
"We live in a world of illusions, and this society is sleeping. Society must be mobilized. To prepare now, so that it does not happen unexpectedly later. The balloons must burst. Everything must be done fairly", said Yevgeny Prigozhin.
"I'm not talking about winning the war. The most important thing is not to embarrass the country, not to damage the Russian weapon, not to explain to the African dictators that everything is going well when they say: 'You guys exposed yourself'". says Prigozhin (the last word in his quote is more flowery in the original).
The conditions under which politics will be made
"Today" the tasks are completely different, Prigozhin said, but with another figurative comparison (by which he seems to mean the ruin of Russia), he left the door open: "If we turn into the Libyan desert and chase the sands in battered from all sides jeeps, like in the movie 'Mad Max', then I will have to form a party."
"We must stop building beautiful bridges, big theaters, new stages and everything in our country should be aimed at defense. Because once we got into this fight, if we lose, Russia will go back to the early 1990s, when all state-owned enterprises belonged to foreign investors", said "Putin's chef"
"We are preparing for a tough, tough war. My first message to CNN is that you have to respect Russia," Prigozhin said when asked by CNN if he would hold a press conference in Russia after his appearances, and issued a threat.
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