Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has admitted that the long-promised counteroffensive against Russian forces has not delivered the results that some Western observers expected. Amid mounting losses, Zelensky insisted that he would not discuss peace with Moscow.
- “Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It’s not,” he told the BBC on Wednesday, admitting that advances by Ukrainian troops have been “slower than desired.”
- “Whatever some might want, including attempts to pressure us, with all due respect, we will advance on the battlefield the way we deem best,” he added.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive began on June 4 with a failed attack on Russian positions near Donetsk, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Wave after wave of attacks followed along the Donetsk and Zaporozhye sectors of the front line, all of which Russian forces have managed to withstand while destroying hundreds of Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles, and thousands of Ukrainian troops, according to the ministry.
- While Zelensky told the BBC that his forces have managed to capture eight villages, Ukrainian troops have yet to penetrate even the first of Russia’s multi-layered defensive lines. With a warren of trenches, minefields, and fortifications in their path and Russian artillery and air support operating freely, Ukraine has lost 7,500 men and 30% of its Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles, the Kremlin estimated last Wednesday.
Daily reports from Moscow have since added at least another 2,000 men to the casualty count, with Ukraine said to have lost over 1,000 soldiers and 20 tanks in a single day of fighting over the weekend.
Zelensky is reportedly under pressure to score some battlefield successes for his Western patrons, and he acknowledged to the BBC that “victories on the battlefield are necessary” to resolve the conflict in Kiev’s favor.
- However, he added that “no matter how far we advance in our counteroffensive, we will not agree to a frozen conflict because that is war, that is a prospectless development for Ukraine.”
Zelensky has repeatedly vowed to drive Russian troops out of the four formerly Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – that voted last year to join Russia, as well as Crimea, which joined Russia after a referendum in 2014.
American, British, and other NATO officials have backed his refusal to “freeze” the conflict, but many admit that Ukrainian forces could never hope to mount an attack on Crimea.
“Behind the scenes, many Western military analysts express serious doubts about the success of the Ukrainian adventure,” Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) chief Sergey Naryshkin said on Monday. “Without going into details, I’ll say that the tasks announced by the Kiev regime are assessed as unachievable” by foreign experts, he added.