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Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive against Russia has started

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky appears to have confirmed that his country’s long-awaited counter-offensive against Russia has started, according to a media report.

“Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place,” Zelensky said on Saturday, BBC reported.

But he added that he would not talk in detail about which stage or state the counter-offensive was in.

The comments come after an escalation of fighting in the south and east of Ukraine and speculation about progress of the widely anticipated push, BBC reported.

Ukrainian troops are reported to have advanced in the east near Bakhmut and in the south near Zaporizhzhia, and have carried out long-range strikes on Russian targets.

But assessing the reality on the front lines is difficult, with the two warring sides presenting contrasting narratives: Ukraine claiming progress and Russia that it is fighting off attacks, BBC reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a video interview published Friday that Ukrainian forces had certainly begun their offensive but that attempted advances had failed with heavy casualties.

Speaking in Kiev, after talks with the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Zelensky described the Russian leader’s words as “interesting”.

Shrugging his shoulders, raising his eyebrows and pretending not to know who Putin was, Zelensky said it was important that Russia felt “they do not have long left”.

He also said that Ukraine’s military commanders were in a positive mood, adding: “Tell that to Putin,” BBC reported.

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