The president of Ukraine said that Belarus is monitoring the security situation, where the Wagner militia trains Belarusian troops.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned his country that Russia was throwing all available resources into its military campaign to prevent Kiev’s troops from pressing their counteroffensive in the country’s south and east.
Zelenskyy’s comments on Friday came as Ukrainian officials again acknowledged that Ukraine’s much-anticipated move to push back Russian forces is progressing at a much slower pace than some had expected.
“We must all understand very clearly – as clearly as possible – that Russian forces are investing everything in their power to stop our soldiers on our southern and eastern lands,” Zelensky said in his daily evening address to the nation.
“Every thousand meters we advance, every victory of our combat brigade deserves thanks,” he said.
Zelensky said he had received an “important report” on the security situation in neighboring Belarus, and that while there were no “large-scale threats” at the moment, he was closely monitoring it.
“Our full focus is on the front line,” he said.
Ukraine’s president’s comments on Belarus come amid news that Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has reached an agreement to train Belarusian troops.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday that an agreement had been reached with Wagner to develop a roadmap for “training and exchange of experience between units of different branches of the armed forces in the future”.
The Defense Ministry also released a video of Wagner fighters instructing Belarusian soldiers at a training ground near the town of Asipovichi, about 90 km (56 miles) southeast of the capital Minsk.
The ministry did not say how Wagner fighters were involved in military training in Belarus, where the mutinous mercenaries were promised sanctuary last month after ending a rebellion against the Russian military leadership.
Belarus has emerged as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war on Ukraine.
‘Not progressing so fast’
Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, was the latest official to admit on Friday that the fighting was difficult for Ukrainian forces and that the offensive was “not progressing so quickly”.
Western allies, which have given Kiev billions of dollars in arms, have not pressed for a faster advance, said Yermak, who is considered Zelensky’s right-hand man.
“No pressure, just one question: How can we help you further?” he said.
Ukraine’s General Oleksandr Tarnovsky, the commander of Ukrainian forces in the south, said after meeting with Zelenskyy on Friday that his troops were “systematically moving the enemy from their positions”.
He wrote in a telegram that enemy losses in the last 24 hours amounted to at least 200.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in its daily report on Friday that its forces had repelled 16 Ukrainian offensives in the east, including the long-contested city of Marinka and the strategic village of Klishivka on Baghmut’s southern edge.
Military analyst Serhiy Hrabskyi told Ukrainian NV radio that in the south of the country, “the situation is very difficult in the advance towards Berdyansk” – referring to a port on the Sea of Azov.
“It provides resistance to stop the enemy advancing southward,” he said.
Ukraine’s weeks-long counteroffensive is said to be focused on capturing villages in the country’s southeast near the Sea of Azov and the eastern city of Baghmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May after months of bloody fighting. Wagner fighters.
Ukrainian forces hope to cut off a land bridge established by Russian forces with the annexed Crimean peninsula.
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