Ukraine war latest: Putin says counteroffensive has begun - and Ukrainian official says Russia 'rigging chemical plant' with explosives (2023)

Key points
  • Putin says Ukrainian counteroffensive has started
  • Russia 'rigs chemical plant with explosives' - Ukraine
  • The first three prongs to Ukraine's 'ambitious and dangerous' counterattacks
  • RAF scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft
  • Alex Crawford in Kherson:Few foreign relief workers assisting in unfolding humanitarian crisis
  • Watch: Panic at evacuation point as sound of shelling rings out
  • Sean Bell analysis:What is happening between Putin and the Wagner Group?
  • Your questions answered:What makes Russia's invasion illegal - as opposed to wars in countries like Iraq?
  • Live reporting by Brad Young and (earlier) Lara Keay


'Attack' on ammonia pipeline will hinder grain deal - Kremlin

Damage to an ammonia pipeline - which Ukraine and Russia blame on eachother - will have "a negative impact" on the fate of the Black Sea grain deal, said the Kremlin.

Russia has previously threatened to walk away from the agreement, which provides a safe corridor for the export of Ukrainian grain, if demands to improve Russian fertilizer exports are not met.

The Togliatti-Odesa pipeline has been idle since the start of the war in February last year and, this week, Russia accused Ukrainian forces of blowing up a part of the pipeline.

The regional Ukrainian governor said Russia had shelled it.

Asked how the damage couldimpact the fate of the grain deal, Kremlin spokesmanDmitry Peskov said: "It can only have a negative impact."

He called it "yet another complication in terms of extending the deal," adding that Russia did not know "what kind of destruction" there had been to the ammonia pipeline.


Early damage to western kit 'not indicator' of counteroffensive outcome

As images and videos purporting to show destroyed Ukrainian hardware surface in online Russian information spaces, experts have warned against drawing conclusions about the wider counteroffensive.

Losses are "inevitable during any military undertaking", particularly offensive operations, said the Institute for the Study of War.

The loss of Western equipment early on in the counteroffensive is "not an indicator of the future progress".

The US-based think tank said: "It is important not to exaggerate the impact of initial losses of Western or any other equipment, particularly in penetration battles against prepared defensive positions."

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Yesterday, the ISW said Ukraine appears to have committed "only a portion of the large reserve of forces available" for the counteroffensive.

"Observers should avoid counting down reported Ukrainian brigades committed or reportedly damaged Western kit as the measure of the remaining effective combat power of Ukrainian forces."


Deception, camouflage and surprise are Ukraine's first priorities - expert

Moscow and Kyiv have both reportedheavy fighting today, with bloggers reporting the first sightings of German and US armour.

It is difficult to assess whether Ukraine has penetrated Russian defences, given how little independent reporting there is on the front lines during offensive operations.

Intense battles on the Zaporizhzhia front near the city of Orikhiv have been reported by Moscow and pro-war Russian bloggers, suggesting the Crimean peninsula could be one of Ukraine's targets.

Velyka Novosilka has seen four Ukrainian attacks, according to Vladimir Putin, and in the east, around Bakhmut, Ukraine has reported advances.

In all, Kyiv has 12 brigades totalling 50,000-60,000 troops ready to unleash - nine of which have been armed and trained by the West.

"They've got a choice of how many they commit initially and how many they keep in reserve in case the battlefield dynamics change," saidBen Barry, senior fellow for land warfare at theInternational Institute for Strategic Studies.

Indeed, defence and security analyst Michael Clarke told Sky News earlier that Kyiv may observe see how the Russians react "before they decide where they'll really put their money."

Mr Barry said Ukraine's initial priority would be trying to keep the Russians off balance and gain tactical surprise through deception and camouflage.


The first three prongs to Ukraine's 'ambitious and dangerous' counterattacks

There are three focal points of increasing Ukrainian counterattacks, according to defence and security analyst Michael Clarke.

(Video) Russia Vs Ukraine War Updates | Ukraine Launches Counteroffensive Against Russia | English News

  • Orikhiv
  • North and south of Bakhmut
  • Velyka Novosilka, near Vuhledar

"The most interesting is in Orikhiv... a big battle has been going on there," said Professor Clarke, adding Ukraine has inevitably lost some Western tanks.

It appears as if they are attempting to take an "ambitious and dangerous" route south toward Russia's "stiff defences" in Tokmak and on to Melitopol.

Professor Clarke said Ukraine could be "taking on the best of the Russian defences" to split its land bridge in half and isolate enemy forces to the west.

This would put "Crimea in peril" and allow Ukraine to bombard the peninsula.

"It is the most ambitious and dangerous thing they can try. We don't yet know if they're really going for that, but they're pushing hard," said Professor Clarke.

They have forced Russia to commit forces to the area, giving the Ukrainians important intelligence about what they are facing.

"This may not be the main thrust, but they are certainly convincing the Russians that they are serious about Orikhiv," said the analyst.

"They may see how the Russians react before they decide where they'll really put their money."


Woman's house shelled in flooded region

While residents continue to be evacuated from floods as high as five metres, Russia continues to shell Kherson.

A picture taken by the Associated Press shows a woman walking through her burning house after an attack.

Meanwhile, debris has washed up on Odesa beach as a result of the flooding.


Putin says Ukrainian counteroffensive has started

Every attempted advance had failed, at a heavy cost in casualties, but Kyiv still preserves its "offensive potential", said the president.

Russia has been making the claim since the start of the week, while Ukraine has said the start of the counteroffensive will not be announced.

Ukrainian forces attacked Russian lines four times with two battalions supported by tanks just south of Velyka Novosilka in Donetsk, but were pushed back, according to the Russian defence ministry.

It also said Russian forces repelled two attacks just south of the city of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region.

"All counteroffensive attempts made so far have failed. But the offensive potential of the troops of the Kyiv regime is still preserved," said Mr Putin.

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Critical air defences and ammunition in £1.6bn US military package

The US has announced £1.6bn ($2bn) more in military assistance for Ukraine, including critical air defences and ammunition.

Delivery depends on their availability and production timeline, as the Biden administration intends to purchase from industry rather than use up US stocks.

What is in the package?

  • Ammunition for Patriot airdefence systems
  • Raytheon HAWK air defence systems
  • Missiles
  • 105mm and 203mm artillery rounds
  • Small AeroVironmentdrones that can be launched by hand
  • Laser-guidedrocket system munitions
  • Support for training andmaintenance


Russian anti-Putin militia plans to demilitarise border by force - reports

It has been a few days since we've heard from the anti-Putin militias causing a headache for the leader inside Russia's western border.

The Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russia Volunteer Corps have launched multiple incursions into Belgorod, even reportedly capturing Russian soldiers.

Now the political wing of the FRL has said it intends to forcefully demilitarise the Russian border, in an interview with the Kyiv Post.

(Video) Invasion of Russia Has Begun

Representative Aleksey Baranovsky said the group were 10km (0.6 miles) into Russia and intend to advance at least 40km so that tanks and Grad missiles cannot strike Ukrainian territory.

Should Ukraine liberate Crimea, the FRL plans to take advantage of the chaos to overthrow the Kremlin: "Unfortunately, the Russian people gave birth to Putin, and we must also finish him off. No one will do this job for us."

He told the Kyiv Post the group of "military rebels" aim to seize power, before transitioning to a democratic state.

"Compared with post-Hitler Germany, where the first elections happened there four years after the fall of the reich, we expect to implement this plan in two years," Mr Baranovsky told the Kyiv Post.


UK accuses Iran of supplying Russia with ammunition for first time

It comes after the US released new intelligence on how Tehran is providing hundreds of lethal drones to Moscow.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, said that the UK agreed with the US assessment and went on to make a specific reference to ammunition.

"Iran has provided Russia with a consistent stream of weapons and ammunition which is being used to kill civilians in Ukraine," he said in a statement.

"In return, Russia is supplying Iran with sophisticated military technology, financial support and advice which the regime could use to threaten our partners in the Middle East and suppress protests."

Sky News this week revealed a purported arms contract that a security source said offers the first hard evidence that Iran has sold ammunition to Russia for its war in Ukraine.


Five dead, 13 missing and more than 3,200 evacuated

At least five people have died and 13 are missing as a result of the dam destruction.

More than 3,200 people have been evacuated from the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, according to the latest figures from Ukraine's interior ministry.

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The water level in Kherson has started to fall - but still remains above five metres high, according to its governor Oleksandr Prokudin.


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