Russian president claims Ukraine’s counteroffensive ‘failed’

Russian president claims Ukraine’s counteroffensive ‘failed’

Vladimir Putin holds talks with Belarusian counterpart in Russian city of St. Petersburg

By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday claimed that Ukraine’s counteroffensive "has failed" as he hosted his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for talks in St. Petersburg.

In reply to Lukashenko's remarks that “there is no counteroffensive," Putin said: “It exists, but it has failed.”

Putin, who ordered a "special military operation" in Ukraine last February, claimed Ukrainian losses since the start of the counteroffensive last month exceeded 26,000.

For his part, Lukashenko claimed that more than 15 Leopard and over 20 Bradley tanks were destroyed over the past 24 hours.

Ukrainian authorities have not yet commented on Putin and Lukashenko's comments, and independent confirmation of their claims is difficult due to the ongoing war.

He added that plans to “dismember” Ukraine and separate the country’s western regions are “unacceptable.”

Russian officials have maintained that Poland desires to invade and occupy the western parts of Ukraine.

Lukashenko also suggested that fighters of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, who are now based in Belarus, were keen to push across the border into Poland.

“Maybe I shouldn't say it, but I will. The Wagnerites began to strain us: ‘I want to go to the West. Allow us.’ I said, why do you need to go to the West? ‘Well, go on an excursion to Warsaw, to Rzeszow.’"

Russia and Belarus are allies and linked in a partnership called the “union state.” Lukashenko also brokered last month’s deal to end a short-lived Wagner mutiny.

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