Ukraine’s military claimed on Tuesday that it shot down one of the Iran-built Russian drones as The Kyiv counter-offensive continued to repel invaders from northeastern towns occupied since the first weeks of the war.
The Ukrainian army has released images of the wreckage of the drone, encountered near Kupiansk in Kharkiv province, where Ukrainian troops have made a breakthrough in recent days in the strategically important city of Izyum.
In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry tried to quell growing unrest over the progress of the war, saying attack helicopter teams were flying more than five combat sorties every day to disrupt the counteroffensive near of Izyum. Russian forces also shelled central Kharkiv, cutting off electricity and water to some areas of the city, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
Russia has withdrawn many troops from the province, but says it was a planned regrouping to increase efforts on the southern front in Donetsk.
“The enemy is demoralized and is looking for ways to leave the occupied territories,” the Southern Operational Command of Ukraine said. “But the occupiers still have a lot of strength and power.”
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As newly liberated residents in parts of Ukraine celebrate the Russian retreat and inspect the charred tanks left behind, Ukrainian authorities are scrambling to persuade more invading troops to give up the fight.
Amid unconfirmed reports that large numbers of Russian soldiers have surrendered, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the government was dropping shells full of leaflets encouraging more of them to drop off. arms.
“The Russians are using you as cannon fodder,” read the flyers. “Your life means nothing to them. You don’t need this war. Surrender to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked about simmering home criticism of the war effort, said it was permitted by law, but with limits. Peskov cited the backlash as an example of “pluralism”, adding that Russians as a whole remain strongly supportive of President Vladimir Putin. The Defense Ministry has taken a beating on Russian social media — and even among some Russian TV commentators — for what, in some cases, were seen as hasty and botched retreats.
“As for other views, critical views, as long as they stay within the legality, that’s pluralism, but the line is very, very thin,” Peskov said. “You have to be very careful here.”
He said the plans are still to continue the war until the objectives are achieved. No plans to significantly increase troop strength through a draft have been made, he said.
Contribute: The Associated Press