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24 Oct, 2023 00:38

Zelensky orders Ukrainian army to advance ‘500 meters a day’

The president has demanded daily progress in Kiev’s lagging counteroffensive
Zelensky orders Ukrainian army to advance ‘500 meters a day’

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has set a daunting task for his military, demanding that they take at least 500 meters of territory every day from Russian forces. His order comes despite Kiev's troops reportedly suffering tens of thousands of casualties in their floundering counteroffensive.

“Ukraine needs results every day,” Zelensky insisted in his evening video address on Sunday. “We need to resist the Russian assaults, kill the occupiers and move forward. We must advance by at least a kilometer, at least 500 meters, every day. We must keep moving forward in order to improve the Ukrainian positions and put pressure on the occupiers.”

Such progress is needed to strengthen Ukraine and motivate foreign allies to provide more military support, Zelensky said, adding that next week “will bring more opportunities for Ukraine.”

Zelensky made his comments at a time when Russian forces are advancing around the town of Avdeevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Kupyansk, in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin estimated that Ukrainian forces had suffered more than 90,000 casualties in their counteroffensive, which began in early June, describing it as “failed.”  Meanwhile, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kirill Budanov, admitted in an interview that the operation isn’t so much “behind schedule” as off the schedule entirely.

Kiev also faces a potential competition for Western support and attention after surprise attacks by Hamas ignited a new war in Israel earlier this month. Even before the latest Israel-Hamas conflict began, President Joe Biden’s administration was struggling to win approval from US lawmakers for additional military and economic aid to Ukraine.

The White House unveiled a $106 billion emergency spending request on Friday, including $61.4 billion for Kiev, $14.3 billion for Israel and $9.2 billion for related humanitarian aid. Most congressional Republicans voted against a smaller Ukraine aid bill earlier this month, and the Pentagon warned that it had exhausted “nearly all available security-assistance funding” for Kiev that was previously approved.