KIEV – Ukraine is facing fierce Russian resistance in the south and east as it stalls in a counteroffensive to recapture Russian-occupied territory.
Ukrainian forces are gaining ground, but fighting is going on for every yard, Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Hanna Maliar said in a statement.
“The enemy is doing everything to keep the conquered positions. The Russians actively use assault and army aviation and conduct intense artillery fire,” Maliar said. “During the offensive, our troops encounter continuous minefields, which are combined with anti-tank ditches. All this it is combined with continuous counterattacks by enemy units on armored vehicles and the massive use of ATGMs and kamikaze drones”.
Over the past day, Ukrainian troops advanced 250 meters in the direction of Bakhmut in the Berkhiv reservoir area, and another 200 meters in the direction of Toretsk in the Donetsk region, Maliar said. In the Zaporizhzia region, the Ukrainian army retook up to one kilometer in the direction of Berdiansk, making a total advance of three square kilometers in the region so far.
According to Maliar, battles are currently raging in several districts of southern and eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainians and Russians have been reporting their gains in meters for months. For example, in the nine-month-long battle for Bakhmut alone, Russia reportedly lost one soldier killed or wounded for every 48cm of territory gained, the British Defense Ministry reported in recent days.
Expectations out of measure
After the rapid success of last year’s counter-offensive in Kharkiv and Kherson, Ukraine is under pressure to achieve equal or even better results.
A « successful Ukrainian counter-offensive could force Putin to negotiate an end to the war, » US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani in Washington on Monday.
Still, people not directly involved in the war may have outsized expectations, Taras Chmut, a Ukrainian military analyst and head of Ukraine’s largest military volunteer foundation, called Come Back Alive, told POLITICO.
“This is not a Hollywood movie. The Ukrainian forces are advancing with the speed they need this time. Like last year’s counteroffensive. People have no information on how many failed attempts were made last year before the big success that everyone appreciated, » Chmut said.
Although the Ukrainians have to pass through minefields under artillery and aerial bombardment, they still reported gaining ground. Over the past week, Ukraine has reportedly liberated seven villages in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. However, during the first weeks of the counter-offensive, the Ukrainian army has already lost at least 16 Bradley and four Leopard tanks, open source intelligence project Oryx he reported. The Ukrainian command has not commented on the losses of military equipment.
Meanwhile, Russian forces are destroying their command points and supply chains.
Ukraine eliminated Russian army general Sergei Goriachev on Monday, Russian media reported, citing so-called Russian military bloggers. This information cannot be independently verified. The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on Goriachev’s death.
Goriachev, who is said to have died in a rocket attack in the Zaporizhzhia region, was a commander of the 35th Russian Army. Russian Independent media reports stories Goriachev became 10th Russian general killed during the war.
Ivan Fedorov, exiled mayor of Melitopol – a city in the Russian-occupied part of Zaporizhzhia – said in a statement Ukrainian forces destroyed several Russian soldier bases in and around Melitopol on Tuesday.
Monday before, Fedorov also reported that a Russian diesel locomotive was picked up at a local depot. “The Russians have used the rails to transport fuel and weapons to the war front. Every day their travel opportunities are decreasing,” Fedorov said.