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23 Aug, 2023 14:32

Zelensky admits Kiev’s counteroffensive ‘very difficult’

Ukraine has reportedly lost thousands of troops since it launched its military operation in early June
Zelensky admits Kiev’s counteroffensive ‘very difficult’

The Ukrainian military is progressing slowly but surely in its push against Russian defensive lines, President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed. Media reports previously suggested Kiev’s Western backers were losing confidence in the counteroffensive.

“We can see in which directions… we are moving forward. It’s very difficult for us, because there is heavy mining, thousands of mines,” the Ukrainian leader said during a press conference on Wednesday, when asked about the armed campaign against Russia.

Nevertheless, the Ukrainian leader – speaking alongside visiting Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in Kiev – insisted that judging by reports from the military, “we are gradually moving forward. Slowly, but in the right direction.”

The Ukrainian government launched its much-hyped counteroffensive against Russia in early June, but has so far failed to breach Russian lines or make any significant territorial gains. Kiev has sustained significant losses, according to Russian military estimates and reports in the Western media.

The New York Times reported this week that officials in the US were critical of Ukrainian military strategy, arguing that Kiev should have concentrated its forces for a decisive strike in one direction in the south, instead of spreading them along a lengthy frontline. Zelensky “does not want to appear as though he is giving up on trying to retake lost territory” in the east by moving forces elsewhere, the newspaper suggested.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, describing Kiev’s tactics on Wednesday, said: “They are throwing [Ukrainian soldiers] on our minefields, under our artillery fire, acting as if they are not their own citizens at all. It is astonishing.”

According to the Russian military’s most recent assessment, Ukrainian losses since the start of the counteroffensive stand at over 43,000 military personnel and nearly 5,000 pieces of military equipment, including at least 25 Leopards and 21 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.