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President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine is now able to inflict “significant casualties” on Russian invaders thanks to an influx of modern Western weapons that is slowly shifting the balance of the battlefield, as officials report that missile strikes on the port city of Odessa had injured a number of civilians.

Zelensky announcement in his July 18 nightly video message that 1,028 settlements in Ukraine had been liberated from Russian forces and another 2,621 were still under Russian control.

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Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces “were able to inflict significant logistical losses on the occupiers”, making it increasingly difficult for the Russian military to maintain positions in captured territory.

“Step by step, we are advancing, disrupting the supply of occupants, identifying and neutralizing collaborators. The prospect is clear: the Ukrainian flag will be in all our towns and villages. The only question is time,” he said. declared.

Valeriy Zaluzhniy, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, said the “timely arrival” of longer-range artillery such as the American-made HIMARS system was helping to change the situation on the battlefield.

“We managed to stabilize the situation. It’s complex, intense, but completely controlled,” Zaluzhniy said.

“A significant factor contributing to our holding of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of the M142 HIMARS, which conducts surgical strikes on enemy checkpoints, ammunition and fuel storage depots,” CNN said quoting Zaluzhniy.

Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said on television that “today we really have a completely different situation than it was a month ago. Now , thanks to the fact that we receive enough weapons from our partners, we have established a certain parity in certain positions.”

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said on July 19 that “Western weapons do not work 100% but 200% because [Russian] warehouses explode. Command posts are also blown up.”

Russian missiles, meanwhile, struck the port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine, injuring at least six people, including a child, said Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the military administration of Odessa, in a Telegram article on July 19.

Bratchuk said Odessa was the target of seven Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea, and six of them evaded Ukrainian air defenses and hit areas with “civilian population”.

Russian missile strikes also hit the center of Kramatorsk, one of the last towns under Ukrainian control in the eastern Donbass region.

Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko wrote about Telegram on July 19 that “there are casualties” from the attack, although he did not give further details.

“Explosion experts, rescue teams are working at the site,” he wrote.

Earlier, the Russian shelling of the eastern Ukrainian city of Toretsk on July 18 left six people dead, according to the city’s emergency services. Toretsk, a city with an estimated population of 30,000, is located about 50 kilometers south of Kramatorsk, one of the last Ukrainian-controlled cities in the industrial east.

Ukrainian and US defense officials discussed the situation on the ground July 18 ahead of a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group scheduled for later this week.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Twitter that he had a phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to discuss the framework for the next meeting.

“We agreed on the agenda, shared info on gun control coming to Ukraine, etc. Also, @SecDef (Austin) has some really good news, but details will come a bit later,” Reznikov said.

The next meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group will take place on 20 July. At the group’s last meeting in May, a total of 47 countries participated and 20 of them announced security assistance programs for Ukraine.

The British Ministry of Defense said on July 19 in its daily intelligence bulletin that Russia’s “declared” immediate objective is to completely take over the eastern region of Donetsk.

The Ukrainian army also said that Moscow was preparing for the next stage of its offensive with the aim of fully capturing the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

However, the British intelligence services said that while the Russians can still occupy more territory, “their operational tempo and rate of advance will likely be very slow without a significant operational pause for reorganization and refit”.

Kyiv has said in recent days that its forces are themselves preparing for a massive counter-offensive to reclaim previously lost land, particularly in the south.

With reports from AFP, Reuters and TASS

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