An ongoing counteroffensive has reclaimed “more than a thousand square kilometres” from Russian invaders over the past week, according to an update from Ukraine’s president released hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit.
“As part of the ongoing defense operations, our heroes have already liberated dozens of settlements,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his latest update. “And today this movement continues, there are new results. In total, more than a thousand square kilometers of our territory have been liberated since September 1.
Blinken vouched for the “clear and real progress” Ukrainian forces have made without corroborating the specific amount of land that Zelensky was touting. But his arrival underscored growing optimism in Western circles about Ukraine’s battlefield prospects amid a multi-pronged operation in both the prized southern region of Kherson and the city of Kharkiv. further north.
“It’s very early days, but we are seeing clear and real progress on the ground, especially in the Kherson region, but also some interesting developments in Donbass to the east,” Blinken told reporters in Kyiv. “But again, the early days.”
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Ukrainian officials have been clear about their plans for a fall counteroffensive, to the point that friendly observers fear they may have been too outspoken about their plans as Russian commanders took the opportunity to reinforce their positions around Kherson. This transparency now appears to have been a ploy to lure Russian forces across the Dnipro River, pin them down, and then attack the area they left.
“It looks like they’ve outwitted the Russians, at this stage at least, [by] drawing [the] The best Russian troops in Kherson, putting them in a trap, blowing up all the bridges [across the] Dnipro,” a senior European official told the Washington Examiner. “So now [the] The Russians are in trouble because the Ukrainians are advancing near Kherson…and the Russians can’t get supplies from anywhere.
Russian forces around Kharkiv are also lacking reinforcements, the official said, as troops who would have fortified that area are now pinned down on the western side of the Dnipro. “They took them out of Donbass, and Donbass and Kharkiv oblasts are connected, neighbors, so you can’t bring in additional Donbass. [troops] because you just don’t [them]“, said the manager.
However, Ukrainian forces paid a heavy price for any success, due to the staggering amount of artillery power Russia deployed in the months after Ukrainian forces pushed back the attack on Kyiv.
‘They were hitting us all the time’, wounded soldier identified as Oleksandr Told the Washington Post in an interview in a Ukrainian hospital. “If we fire three mortars, they fire 20 in return.”
This soldier, who allowed himself to be photographed while recovering from the loss of his left arm, launched a note of optimism about the counter-offensive. “You have to make jokes to keep your spirits up. We can have this perspective because we are Ukrainians,” he told the Washington Post. “We’re nice if you don’t touch us.”
Blinken announced in Kyiv a new set of weapons worth $675 million, titled “Additional Ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)” and as well as “Anti-Radiation Missiles additional high-speed” – a weapon that allowed Ukrainian forces to hit Russian radar systems in the area.
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“In many cases, the Russians are throwing everything they have at Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians, and they do it indiscriminately,” Blinken said Thursday. “And if you’re the recipient of this, it must be incredibly horrifying. And at the same time you have very precise weapons that we and others have provided to the Ukrainians that allow them with one shot to do what the Russians can try to do with 15 or 20 shots, so that’s also part of what is happening. ”