Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia's Wagner Group mercenary force, said on Wednesday that he believed that Ukraine's counteroffensive had already begun and that his forces were observing heightened activity along the front.
In a statement published by his press service on Telegram, Prigozhin said that the "active phase" of the counteroffensive would begin in the coming days.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday Ukraine would launch a counteroffensive against Russian forces soon, and that he was sure the West would supply Kyiv with modern warplanes afterwards.
Ukraine pushes for a spot in NATO
Speaking at a news conference in Finland, NATO's newest member, Zelensky said that one of the reasons he had traveled to Helsinki was that Kyiv wanted to become a fully-fledged member of the military alliance.
The Ukrainian president cited prior examples of battlefield successes that were followed by Ukraine being granted new types of military aid.
"This is why I am sure we will soon have aircraft. Because we will soon conduct an offensive, and after it I am sure we will be given planes. I would rather it was the other way round, as it would be easier for us, but it is like it is, and we are grateful for everything," the Ukrainian president said.
"We need them. Really need them," Zelensky said, referring to aircraft supplies from Western allies.
Ukraine says 16 killed by Russian attacks in Kherson region
Sixteen people were killed by Russian attacks on Ukraine's Kherson region on Wednesday, the Ukrainian prosecutor's office said.
Twelve of those were killed in the regional capital, also called Kherson, where a further 22 people were wounded, it said. Russian forces have regularly shelled Kherson city from parts of the Kherson region that are occupied by Russia.