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13 Jun, 2023 14:41

Zelensky aide outlines counteroffensive ambitions

Kiev aims to recapture all of its former territories, including Crimea, Igor Zhovkva has said
Zelensky aide outlines counteroffensive ambitions

The ultimate goal of Kiev’s much-hyped counteroffensive is to take back all of the territories it has lost to Russia, Igor Zhovkva, an adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, said in an interview with CNN on Monday. 

The official added that this includes the recapture of the Crimean peninsula, which became part of Russia in 2014 after an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted for such a move in a public referendum. 

Speaking with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Zhovkva refused to provide any details about the offensive or even confirm that it had begun. He only reiterated Zelensky’s statement that “some counteroffensive actions are already underway,” stating that he would not publicly disclose where exactly these actions are taking place or whether or not they have led to any results.  

He admitted, however, that the Ukrainian authorities don’t expect the operation to bring quick results and stated that it will likely take many months to achieve Kiev’s ultimate goal. He also noted that this is not its first or last counteroffensive, recalling Ukraine’s previous operations that pushed Russian troops from Kharkov Region and the northern parts of Kherson Region last year. 

While Kiev has yet to announce the full-scale launch of its much-anticipated counteroffensive, media reports and statements from Russian officials have suggested that Ukrainian forces have indeed made several attempts to break through the front lines in Zaporozhye and Donetsk Regions in recent weeks.  

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Kiev had begun its counteroffensive, but noted that it has so far only resulted in Ukrainian troops sustaining heavy losses. 

Russian officials have also claimed that several German Leopard 2 tanks and a number of US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles have been destroyed in the past week and that Kiev’s forces have failed to achieve any tangible success. 

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Melnik has since called for more Western tanks to be delivered, noting that the German military still has more Leopard 2 tanks to spare than the 18 it has so far delivered to Ukraine. He suggested a figure of over 300 Leopards remaining in Berlin’s arsenal and reasoned that Ukraine’s fleet of tanks could be “tripled without endangering Germany’s ability to defend itself.”