Petraeus expects 'impressive gains' from Ukraine offensive: Live updates

Retired U.S. General David Petraeus says the Ukrainian counteroffensive expected to crank up soon is going to attack Russian forces that are significantly depleted from heavy losses absorbed while claiming modest gains in Bakhmut and elsewhere.

Many of the Russian soldiers have been in combat for a year or more continuously without being rotated out, he told the Kyiv Independent. "They're not pulling their units off to reconstitute them after they take losses," Petraeus said. "They just push poorly trained and equipped individual replacements into them."

Ukrainian forces have been training for many months and are well-disciplined, he said, adding they are "well-led, and they're well-equipped now, with Western tanks and infantry fighting vehicles."

Ukraine has been hinting about a counteroffensive for weeks while keeping the timing secret. In an audio interview posted Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Wall Street Journal: “I believe that today we are ready to do this. We would like to have some things, but we can't wait for months.''

Petraeus has expressed doubts about Russia's military capacity and its ability to win the war, and he reiterated to the Independent that he likes Ukraine's chances.

"I do think that the counteroffensive is going to achieve impressive gains and will set Ukraine on a path (to success),'' he said.


∙ Russian losses at Bakhmut were more than seven times those of Ukraine, National Security, and Defense Council chief Oleksiy Danilov told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. Danilov said Russia had lost 22,816 people in Bakhmut since Sept. 1, around the time when convicted criminals recruited from prisons began supplementing Russia's front-line troops.  

∙ A 62-year-old night guard of a Kyiv clinic faces charges for failing to open the clinic's bomb shelter in time during a Russian missile attack, leading to the deaths of three people. A new study by a government commission showed only 55% of Kyiv's 1,078 bomb shelters were ready to use, and 11% were closed.

∙ A Russian missile attack left a 2-year-old girl dead and 22 people injured − 17 of them requiring hospitalization − in a residential area of the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, regional Gov. Serhiy Lysak said Sunday. The girl's mother was seriously injured.

People evacuated from the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine receive humanitarian aid on June 3, 2023.
People evacuated from the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine receive humanitarian aid on June 3, 2023.

Protests, message of hope as Alexei Navalny turns 47 in prison

At least 90 people were arrested Sunday across Russia as they protested the continued incarceration of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on his 47th birthday, an occasion he used to express hope for Russia's future.

Navalny is serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and contempt of court, charges he says were trumped up to punish him for his work to expose official corruption and organize anti-Kremlin protests. He also faces a trial on extremism charges that could extend his time behind bars significantly.

Russian authorities have cracked down on dissent since the war in Ukraine started, and on Sunday police quickly rounded up those who tried to stage individual pickets on Pushkin Square and elsewhere in Moscow.

Perhaps buoyed by the numerous demonstrations demanding his release, including several in European cities, Navalny said on Twitter he's not bitter about spending his birthday in prison, and he voiced optimism for better days ahead.

"Surely the day will come when speaking the truth and advocating for justice will become something commonplace and not at all dangerous in Russia,'' he tweeted.

Mariupol documentary stirs powerful memories

Some of the civil servants featured in "20 Days in Mariupol'' drew several standing ovations when the documentary premiered Saturday in Kyiv, as feelings of deja vu permeated among many of those Ukrainian medics and first responders chronicled in the film about the relentless assault by Russian forces on the southern port city they eventually took.

The award-winning film, a joint project between The Associated Press and PBS Frontline, depicted the constant hardships encountered by the workers who toiled nearly non-stop in and around a Mariupol hospital that serves as the documentary's centerpiece.

It brought back some powerful memories for the likes of Serhii Chornobrivets, an ambulance worker in the city at the time.

“It was very hard emotionally because it reminded me of when we were leaving Mariupol, there were still a lot of casualties,” said Chornobrivets, 25, who's now a military medic. “I could have saved more people, but I didn’t.”

Some Ukrainian men illegally attempting to flee country

Ukrainian border guards detained up to 20 men trying to go abroad illegally every day, authorities said. Under martial law, men 18 to 60 are banned from going abroad without a special permit. But some use fake death certificates of their wives to try to leave because the law allows single parents to cross the border freely, border patrol spokesman Andriy Demchenko said. In other cases, Ukrainian men also falsify children's birth certificates, he said. According to the law, men who have three or more children up to 18 are allowed to cross the border. Another ploy is fake documents from the military enlistment office claiming the men are unfit for military service, Demchenko said.

Russian governor seeks deal with Ukrainian-supporting 'saboteurs'

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod Region said Sunday he's willing to meet with Ukrainian-supporting Russian "saboteurs" at a checkpoint between the warring countries to try to save Russian prisoners of war.

The Russian Volunteer Corps, a militia of Russians who support Ukraine, has been attacking villages near the border. They claim to control more Russian territory in the area than Russia seized during the monthslong siege of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

The group invited Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov to a meeting to discuss a prisoner exchange. A video showed prisoners the group promised to hand over to Gladkov at the meeting.

"I am grieved to say but most probably, they have killed them," Gladkov said on his Telegram channel. "But if they are alive ... I guarantee security."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine updates: David Petraeus expects 'gains' from Ukrainian forces