May 25, 2024

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Ukraine’s Counterattack: Why Progress Has Been Slow



CNN

The minefields in southern Ukraine are very dense The forces are trying to liberate A soldier who took part in Kiev’s counterattack in the south told CNN that the area could only advance “tree by tree”. In all his years of service, he said, he had never seen so many mines.

The soldier, who asked to be identified by the call sign “Legion,” told CNN that he believes his forces’ actions have been “very successful and effective.” Yet, as he and other Ukrainian soldiers trotted through mined areas, facing heavily fortified defenses and air assaults, much of the world seemed to be thinking They move slowly.

Western allies of Ukraine They became concerned about the fact that the advance of Kiev’s long-awaited counteroffensive was measured in meters, not kilometers. Kiev’s allies are well aware that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia without their help. But the slower-than-expected pace of the counterattack means their support could become increasingly unsustainable if the conflict continues.

Many of the countries supporting the war effort in Ukraine are suffering from high inflation, high interest rates and slow growth. Their leaders — some of whom will face elections in the next year and a half — need to justify the vast amount of resources they have poured into Ukraine when their constituents are struggling to make ends meet. That can get tricky if there isn’t a lot of battlefield success to show for it.

For now, the support seems unchanged. Several Ukrainian and Western officials acknowledged that the counterattack had so far failed to yield significant progress — but most were quick to add that the slow progress was justified.

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The front lines in southern and eastern Ukraine have not moved much over the past months, giving Russian forces plenty of time to dig in and prepare for a counterattack.

According to an assessment by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), some of the most strategic sections of the front line are guarded by multiple lines of defense, making it very difficult for the Ukrainians to break through.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said the pace is not surprising, given that Ukrainian soldiers are fighting “for their lives”.

“We give them as much human assistance as possible, but at the end of the day, Ukrainian soldiers attack through minefields and into trenches,” he said.

“Yeah, sure, it’s going a little slow, but that’s part of the nature of war,” Milley said at the National Press Club on Friday.

Milley stressed that the Ukrainians were moving forward, although slowly. He said, “(The attack) is advancing steadily, deliberately, making its way through very difficult minefields… You know, 500 meters a day, 1,000 meters a day, 2,000 meters a day, that sort of thing.”

As Ukrainian forces make their way through deadly minefields on the ground, they still lack air supremacy and are repeatedly attacked from above.

The legionnaire, a sergeant major in the Ukrainian 47th Brigade that is taking part in the fighting in the south, said it was clear that Russian forces had been preparing for this moment for months.

They knew that this area was where the main attack would happen, so they prepared well. They have artillery and aviation here, fighters and helicopters operate regularly.

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Legion told CNN that the fighting in the area was similar to what it was like in Bakhmut during the hottest phase.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that while the counterattack is under way, the main push is yet to come.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said last month that Ukraine was holding back some of its reserves and that the “main strike” was still ahead.

The ISW also said that information published by Russian military bloggers about the situation along the front lines indicated that “Ukrainian forces are not currently attempting large-scale operations that would lead to rapid territorial advances”.

Instead, the Ukrainian military appears to be launching smaller offensives in various directions along the roughly 1,000-kilometre (or 621-mile) front line, trying to deplete Russian reserves before launching a major offensive.

Meanwhile, the country President Volodymyr Zelensky He said he wanted to be strategic about where the troops were being sent.

He said: “Every meter, every kilometer costs lives.” “You can do something really fast, but the field is mined on the ground. People Our treasure. That’s why we’re so careful.”

Zelensky acknowledged on Monday that the past week had been difficult for troops on the front lines. But we are making progress. We are moving forward, step by step! he said in a statement.

Milley urged observers to be patient, saying he expected the counterattack to last 10 weeks.

“What I said is this is going to take six, eight, ten weeks. It’s going to be very hard. It’s going to be very long and it’s going to be very bloody. And nobody should have any illusions about any of that,” he said.

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