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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used his daily speech on Saturday to thank the troops on the front lines, or fighting for control of the skies above them: the fighter jets that would be especially important in the counteroffensive that is expected to hit Kiev. release soon.
Zelensky often welcomes specific units in his speeches, butayerhe controlled more than a dozen people, including commanders, gunners, marines, and foot soldiers.
"We must all remember that our defense, our active actions and the independence of Ukraine are not something abstract. They are very specific people, specific actions of specific heroes, thanks to which Ukraine exists and will exist," Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president concluded his speech by asking all Ukrainians to personally thank the military and military.
Concerns about air supremacy:Zelensky's speech comes amid ongoing speculation that Ukraine's long-awaited counter-offensive, which had seemed imminent for weeks, could begin in the coming days. The Ukrainian president said that kyiv is ready to carry out the operation in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.posted no saturday.
“I think as of today we are ready for that. We would like to have certain things, but we cannot wait months,” Zelensky said.
Last monthZelensky said Ukraine needed "a little more time", possibly to allow for the delivery of more Western military aid, including much-needed air defense systems.
Zelensky spent months lobbying Western powers to supply Ukraine with fighter jets and weapons to help control the skies, as they would help limit the number of casualties among Ukrainian fighters during any potential counterattack.
In an interview with the Journal, Zelensky acknowledged that Russia maintains air superiority at the front. He said the lack of protection from the Russian air force means "a large number of soldiers will die."
"Everyone knows very well that any counterattack in the world without control of the skies is very dangerous," Zelensky said.
Of theDissident Russian military unitsthis claim that they havecaptured russian soldiersthey say they are going to transfer the prisoners to the Ukrainian army.
The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom for Russia Legion requested a meeting with the governor of Belgorod, the Russian border region where they said they captured the militants. Butseems to express transparency in the meeting, the groups claim that Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov did not attend the debate.
According to a video update from the Russian Volunteer Corps, the groups have now decided to hand over the captured soldiers "to the Ukrainian side for the exchange process."
The Russian Volunteer Corps said it has "more captured soldiers now," without saying how many.
CNN cannot independently verify the claims of dissident groups.
On Russian anti-Kremlin fighters:The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom for Russia Legion are not officially part of the Ukrainian army, but fight under Ukrainian command. They have made several recent forays into Belgorod which have helpedbring the war to russian soil.
Russian forces repelled an attack in occupied southern Ukraine, Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in the Zaporizhia region, said on Sunday.
Rogov said the attack took place around midnight as part of a "reconnaissance battle" effort by the Ukrainian army to break through the front line in the southern region.
Most of the fighting took place in various areas east of the city of Zaporizhzhia in the neighboring Donetsk region, Rogov said.
According to the Russian-backed official, Ukrainian forces managed to advance as far as 400 meters (about a quarter mile), but were pushed back. He cited "active hostilities" in the region and said the Ukrainians "are not stopping their offensive efforts."
Many pro-Russian military bloggers also reported clashes in the region.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian army did not mention the fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region in its daily report on Sunday.
Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, told CNN on Sunday that he "could not comment."series of recent attacks in the Zaporizhzhia region, insinuating that it could "hurt" a long-awaitedukrainian counter-attack.
Ukrainian tennis playerElina SvitolinaHe called his rival on Sunday, Russia's Daria Kasatkina, "brave" for her public comments on Moscow's war against Ukraine.
Svitolinaproclaimedhe will not shake hands with his Russian and Belarusian rivals out of respect for the men and women defending Ukraine on the front lines. However, she told reporters that she "recognized" Kasatkina after the Ukrainian's victory on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open.
Last month, Kasatkina, the best tennis player in Russia,expressed his sympathyabout Ukrainian players refusing to shake his hand after games.
"Well, the saddest part is that the war continues," Kasatkina said at the time. “Well, of course, the Ukrainian players have many reasons not to shake hands with us. I accept and that's it. It's a very sad situation and I understand it."
"She is a very brave person to say that publicly, which a lot of players haven't done," Svitolina said on Sunday. "She is brave."
Svitolina will face a Belarusian player, Aryna Sabalenka, if Sabalenka defeats American Sloane Stephens on Tuesday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Sunday as they continue to work onfind a way to get Sweden to join the alliance.
Russia's war in the Ukraine incited Sweden andFinlandabandon decades of neutrality and try to join the alliance, seen as a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tried to undermine NATO. But Turkey suspended Sweden's membership for various reasons, notably blaming Stockholm for allowingterrorist organizations remain in the country.
Stoltenberg confirmed that officials from Sweden, Turkey and Finland will meet in the week of June 12 to discuss Sweden's proposal to join NATO.
On Thursday, Sweden passed new anti-terror legislation that amends its constitution, ends an arms embargo and strengthens its anti-terror operations, including against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). In response to this new legislation, Stoltenberg said that "Sweden has taken important concrete steps to respond to Turkey's concerns" and that it has "complied with its obligations."
Stoltenberg said he believed there was still time for Sweden to join this year's NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12, a goal set at last year's summit in Madrid.
Read more here:
NATO is in a race against time to save itself from a major embarrassment - CNN
Of theDissident Russian military unitsHe said on Sunday that two Russian soldiers had been captured in the Belgoron region and requested a meeting with local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom for Russia Legion, which are not officially part of the Ukrainian armed forces but are fighting under Ukrainian command, have made several recent raids on Belgorod that have helpedbring the war to russian soil.
Gladkov responded to the group's request in avideo messageon his Telegram channel on Sunday, saying he is ready to talk to the units if the two soldiers they claim to have captured are still alive.
“The only thing that prevents me from negotiating with them is in their hands. They were most likely killed, as hard as that is to say. But if they are alive, from 17:00 to 18:00 Shebekino International Automobile Checkpoint. I guarantee security. That's it," Gladkov said, apparently offering to meet.
The head of Wagner's private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said in a Telegram post on Sunday that he was "ready to send one of his senior aides" to pick up captured Russian soldiers if no one came to their rescue.
Prigozhin, quefrequently attacks the Kremlin establishment, challenged Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov to rescue the soldiers as well.
Read more about Ukraine-aligned Russian fightershere.
Ukrainian forces won two small victories in the east of the country, Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi wrote on the army's official website.
One involved advancing 400 meters (1,300 ft) to the town of Svatove in Donetsk. Svatove lies along Russia's main supply routes, so its capture would have major strategic implications.
Here are other top headlines from Ukraine:
- Zelensky thank you:In his daily speech on Saturday, Ukrainian Presidentthanked more than a dozen soldiers by nameand asked the Ukrainians to take the time to do the same with individual soldiers. Among those controlled by Zelensky were troops on the front lines or fighting to control the skies above them, fighters who would be especially important incounterattackwhich should start in kyiv.
- Deadly assault on Pidhorodne: Rescuers haverecovered the body of a 2-year-old girlfrom the ruins of a building struck by aRussian coupOn Saturday, in the small riverside town of Pidhorodne, in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, a Ukrainian military official said. Twenty-two people were injured in the attack, including five children.
- The battle approaches Belgorod:The western Russian province, on the border with Ukraine,keep seeing violencelike warspills over the border. The Belgorod governor said in a video posted on Sunday that the bombing had been reported.Russian splinter groupsThe Ukrainian-led fight is building pressure there.
The head of Ukraine's ground forces said the country's troops had won two small front-line victories in the battlefield with Russia in the disputed Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts.
The commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, wrote on an official army website that Ukrainian forces advanced 400 meters (1,300 feet) closer to the town of Svatove in the Lugansk region. Svatove lies along Russia's main supply routes, so any possible recapture of the city would have major strategic implications.
Although the front line has been static for months, hostilities in northern Donetsk and several areas of Luhansk "continue almost 24 hours a day," Sirsky said.
Sirsky said Russia has launched new attacks at various locations in the Luhansk region and the northern part of the Donetsk region partly using former prisoners who have been specially trained for strike operations.
While Russian troop reinforcements gave his forces a numerical advantage, Syrskyi suggested that Ukraine's superior agility gives Kiev a battlefield advantage.
"Nor is numerical superiority helping the enemy," he said.
Luhansk and Donetsk form the Donbass region of Ukraine,an industrial heartwhen Russian-backed separatists seized control of two territories and declared breakaway republics in 2014. Just before the full-scale invasionin February 2022Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the two breakaway territories as independent states and ordered the deployment of Russian troops there, in violation of international law.
The latest from Bakhmut:Syrskyi also said Ukrainian troops managed to liberate territory south of Bakhmut, the city of Donetsk where some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place.
Another Ukrainian official, military spokesman Serhii Cherevatyi, said the kyiv forces were mainly engaged in "preparatory activities" and "reconnaissance."
"We try to keep our people and only fight back when we think there are opportunities for success," Cerevati said.