KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy provided an update on Saturday, stating that counteroffensive and defensive actions were currently underway against Russian forces in Ukraine. Speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Kyiv, Zelenskyy addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent comments claiming that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had commenced and resulted in significant losses for Ukrainian forces.
Zelenskyy confirmed the ongoing operations, stating, “The counteroffensive, defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine. I will not speak about which stage or phase they are in.” He further expressed his daily communication with top military leaders, emphasizing their positive mindset. Zelenskyy urged Trudeau to pass on the message to Putin.
The clashes erupted on Thursday within the Malakal camp in South Sudan, involving members of the Shilluk and Nuer ethnic groups. The United Nations office in South Sudan reported that the violence began with a stabbing incident, prompting increased military and police presence in collaboration with South Sudan’s military and authorities.
Despite a peace deal in 2018 to end the civil war, ethnic conflicts persist in South Sudan, where many sought refuge within U.N. protection sites. The medical charity MSF (Doctors Without Borders) announced that the death toll from the clashes has surpassed 20, with more than 50 individuals sustaining injuries. Among the wounded were two MSF staff members, some of whom required evacuation to the capital city of Juba.
Ukraine’s General Staff reported heavy battles in the country’s industrial east, with Russian forces launching air and artillery strikes in the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Additionally, Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant experienced a shutdown of its reactors due to a breach in the Kakhovka dam, causing flooding and reduced water levels. Ukrainian authorities also confirmed civilian casualties from Iranian-made Shahed drones, missiles, and artillery attacks.
Trudeau expressed Canada’s support for Ukraine, pledging $500 million in new military aid on top of the $8 billion already provided since the war’s onset in 2022. He also announced $10 million for humanitarian assistance in response to the recent floods caused by the dam breach. While Trudeau held Russia accountable for the dam’s collapse, he refrained from directly blaming Moscow.
The ongoing conflict has garnered international attention and concern. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his intention to continue engaging in dialogue with Putin to pursue a fair peace settlement. Scholz reiterated the importance of Russian troop withdrawal as the basis for a resolution between Russia and Ukraine.
As the situation in Ukraine remains volatile, efforts are underway to address the urgent needs of affected populations, including the provision of drinking water for approximately 700,000 people, according to the U.N.’s humanitarian aid chief, Martin Griffiths.
In southern Ukraine, where the dam breach occurred, declining water levels pose additional challenges, with one-third of protected natural areas in the Kherson region at risk of being devastated by flooding. Regional authorities warned of potential heavy rainfall over the weekend, complicating rescue and recovery operations.
The international community continues to closely monitor developments in Ukraine, emphasizing the urgency of deescalating the conflict and working towards a lasting solution.