1 of 3 | Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shake hands during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday amid the Russian invasion. Photo by Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA-EFE
June 10 (UPI) -- Ukrainian forces claimed to have made advances around the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut on Saturday as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged more assistance during a surprise visit to Kyiv.
Col. Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military's Operational East Command, said Kyiv's troops were successful in advancing up to 1,400 meters ( 0.8 miles) in various areas around the key Russian-occupied city in eastern Ukraine.
"In total, there were six combat clashes, in which our Defense Forces eliminated 138 occupiers, wounded 236, and took one prisoner," Cherevaty told official media.
Ukrainian forces also destroyed Russian war materiel including howitzers, mounted combat vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun, trucks and ammunition depots in the attacks, he said.
Cherevaty emphasized that Ukrainian forces had taken high ground around Bakhmut and that Russian forces were reinforcing their positions in a bid to hold off advances that appeared to be part of a long-expected Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian invaders in the eastern part of the country.
"Our main goal remains unchanged: to inflict maximum damage on the enemy, maximum losses on the enemy, and all tools are employed to this end," Cherevaty said.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Trudeau and Deputy Canadian Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland made a surprise trip to Kyiv where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who made his clearest indication yet that the counteroffensive is indeed underway.
During his visit, Trudeau observed destroyed Russian vehicles on display in Kyiv and pledged an additional $500 million in aid as well as new sanctions aimed at 24 Russian individuals 17 entities.
The Canadian leader put blame for the collapse of the Kakhovka dam squarely on Russia.
"Russia is responsible and will be held accountable," he said.
Trudeau also pledged to extend Operation Unifier, the Canadian mission to train Ukrainian forces, through 2026.
"We are very grateful that we have such good friends of Ukraine and your people show such big support for all our people in Canada," Zelensnky told Trudeau.
During his visit, Trudeau attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Wall of Remembrance -- a collection of photos honoring those killed during the Russian invasion.
In remarks at a joint press conference with Trudeau, Zelensky told reporters, "Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine, at which stage I will not talk in detail."
The comments came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believes Ukraine's counteroffensive is already underway and that it is already failing.
Ukrainian demonstrators rally in Kyiv on February 12, 2022 to show unity amid U.S. warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. Photo by Oleksandr Khomenko/UPI | License Photo