1)    The Gains 

 

Kyiv on Thursday reported progress in its counteroffensive on the eastern and southern fronts, regaining control over 100 square km (38 square miles) of territory.

 

But in a briefing on Thursday afternoon Deputy Defence Minister Ganna admitted Ukraine was facing heavy Russian resistance.

 

"There is a gradual but steady advance of the armed forces" in the south, Maliar said.

 

"At the same time, the enemy is putting up powerful resistance" on the southern front, she said, referring to mined fields, explosive drones and intense shelling.

 

“The enemy is pulling up additional reserves and is trying with all its might to prevent the advance of Ukrainian forces,” she added.

 

Petr Pavel, the president of the Czech Republic, stressed in an interview with Radio Liberty that “we have not yet seen a real counteroffensive,” adding: “Based on my military experience, I would call it formative operations.”

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And a Poland-based military analyst cited by Reuters, said only three of the 12 brigades had been seen in combat in the southeast so far.

 

For a detailed report on the battlefield progress, check here.

2)    The HIMARS Strike 

 

Elsewhere, reports emerged that as many as 100 of Moscow’s troops were killed when a Ukrainian strike struck a gathering of soldiers waiting for their commander to give a speech.

 

According to unconfirmed Russian sources, the massacre occurred near Kreminna in Luhansk Oblast when members of the 20th Combined Arms Army gathered in a large group not far from the front lines and in range of Kyiv’s HIMARS rockets for two hours.

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Calls have been mounting to find ways to support Kyiv's war effort by tapping the bank accounts, investments and other assets frozen after Russia invaded its neighbour in 2022.

 

Kyiv has not officially confirmed it was behind the strike but a Ukrainian official speaking on condition of anonymity, told Kyiv Post: “It's a really funny situation there. They stood in the open air for two hours listening to the speech.

 

“That is enough time to fix them, transport the HIMARS, enter the coordinates and hit them.”

 

Russian milibloggers are absolutely furious about the incident.

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3)    The Nuclear Power Plant 

 

UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi on Thursday said the situation at the Moscow-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was "serious", but was being stabilised.

 

Grossi arrived at Europe's biggest nuclear plant to assess potential safety risks after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, which caused huge floods and exacerbated fears for the facility's safety.

 

The dam formed a reservoir that provided the cooling water for the plant. "On the one hand, we can see that the situation is serious, the consequences (of the dam's destruction) are there, and they are real,"

 

Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on a visit to the plant.

 

"At the same time, there are measures that are being taken to stabilise the situation."

 

Grossi's third trip to the plant came as Ukraine launched its long-awaited counteroffensive, with fighting intensifying in the Zaporizhzhia region, AFP reports.

4)    The Air Defenses

 

Four of Ukraine's Western backers said Thursday they were joining forces to supply "hundreds" of air defence missiles and their launch systems to Kyiv as it fights back against Russia.

 

The announcement by Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States coincided with a meeting in Brussels of the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group – some 50 nations that are supporting Kyiv militarily.

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"Working with our international partners we are able to provide vital air defence equipment, which will help Ukraine support offensive operations and protect critical national infrastructure," UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

 

The latest supplies will help Kyiv fend off Russia's "brazen missile and drone attacks against Ukrainian cities", the four allies said in a joint statement.

 

"The initiative will deliver hundreds of short and medium range air defence missiles and associated systems required to protect Ukraine's critical national infrastructure and further ensure the success of counter-offensive operations in coming months," they said.

 

Delivery of the equipment is underway and should be complete within weeks, the statement said.

 

The package consists largely of "Soviet-era missiles", it added, without specifying their source.

 

Ukraine has already been receiving NATO-grade rocketry from its Western allies, including long-range Storm Shadow missiles from Britain.

5)    The Phone Call 

A Russia soldier claims Moscow is sending soldiers to certain death and leaving the dead on the battlefield and simply reporting them missing, according to an intercepted phone call between him and sister.

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Published by Ukrainian military intelligence, the call features an unidentified man who believes he is facing certain death, whether killed on the front, where he might simply be reported missing, or executed by Russian “barrier troops.”

 

In the conversation with his sister, he said: “They [Command] send the boys to be slaughtered. Today they sent a group, they were put down (killed), and we will go in three to four days.”

 

“The commander reported that the settlement was occupied when in reality it had not been occupied, and the commander said to occupy it however they want, so they are making our guys go there.”

 

Read the full transcript here.

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