Ukraine’s military claimed on Tuesday that it had shot down one of the Russian-built drones in Iran as The Kyiv Counteroffensive it continued to drive back invaders from northeastern cities occupied since the first weeks of the war.
The Ukrainian military released footage of the drone wreckage, found near Kupiansk in Kharkiv province, where Ukrainian troops have made an advance in recent days into the strategically important city of Izyum.
In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry tried to quell emerging unrest over the progress of the war, saying attack helicopter teams are flying more than five combat sorties every day to disrupt the counteroffensive near Izyum. Russian forces also shelled central Kharkiv, knocking out power and water in some areas of the city, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
Russia has withdrawn many troops from the province but says it was a planned regroupment to increase efforts on the southern Donetsk front.
“The enemy is demoralized and is looking for ways to leave the occupied territories,” Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command said. “But the occupants still have a lot of strength and power.”
‘TOUGHEST SITUATION BY HOURS’: Ukrainian forces push their way to the Russian border. updates
As newly liberated residents in parts of Ukraine celebrate the Russian withdrawal and inspect charred tanks left behind, Ukrainian authorities are working to persuade more invading troops to give up the fight.
Amid unconfirmed reports that large numbers of Russian soldiers have surrendered, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the government is launching howitzers filled with leaflets encouraging more of them to lay down their arms.
“The Russians use you as cannon fodder,” the flyers said. “Your life means nothing to them. You don’t need this war. Surrender to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
When Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked about the simmering criticism at home about the war effort, he said it was allowed by law, but with limits. Peskov cited the backlash as an example of “pluralism,” adding that Russians in general remain a strong supporter of President Vladimir Putin. The Defense Ministry has taken a beating on Russian social media, and even among some commentators on Russian television, for what has in some cases been seen as rash and careless retreats.
“As for other points of view, critical points of view, as long as they remain within the law, this is pluralism, but the line is very, very thin,” Peskov said. Here you have to be very careful.
He said plans still call for continuing the war until the objectives are achieved. No plans have been made to greatly increase troop strength through conscription, he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press