KYIV:Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cautioned his nation about Russia’s extensive deployment of resources in its military campaign to thwart Kyiv’s troops from advancing in the south and east of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy made these remarks on Friday, while Ukrainian officials acknowledged that their long-awaited operation to push back Russian forces was proceeding at a slower pace than anticipated. Nevertheless, reports of new battlefield gains by Ukraine have emerged.
“We must all be acutely aware, as clear as daylight, that the Russian forces occupying our southern and eastern territories are putting every resource at their disposal to halt our valiant troops,” President Zelenskyy stated in his daily evening address to the nation.
“Each meter gained in our advance, every triumph achieved by our combat brigades, deserves our heartfelt appreciation,” he added.
Zelenskyy also mentioned receiving an “important report” on the security situation in neighbouring Belarus, which he is closely monitoring, although he assured that there are currently no significant threats on a large scale.
“Our undivided attention is directed towards the front line,” he emphasized.
The Ukrainian president’s comment on Belarus came as news emerged that Russia’s Wagner mercenary group had reached an agreement to train Belarusian troops.
The Belarusian defence ministry said in a statement on Friday that an agreement has been reached with Wagner to develop a roadmap “for the near future for training and transfer of experience between units of different branches of the armed forces”.
The defence ministry also released a video showing Wagner fighters instructing Belarusian soldiers at a training ground near the town of Asipovichy, about 90km (56 miles) southeast of the capital, Minsk.
The ministry did not specify how Wagner fighters were involved in the military training in Belarus, where the mutinous mercenary force was promised sanctuary after calling off its rebellion against the Russian military leadership last month.
Belarus has emerged as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in his war on Ukraine.