We Have Liberated 50 Square Miles in Three-week Counter-offensive, Claims Ukraine

DONETSK OBLAST, UKRAINE - JUNE 21: Ukrainian soldiers from the 35th Brigade wait for the c
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Ukraine has “de-occupied” 130 square kilometres (50 square miles) of national territory in its southern region since the start of the counter-offensive, real progress but a statement that perhaps underlines recent admissions that things are not moving as quickly as initially hoped.

Kyiv’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar put the previous week’s fighting into context in a statement published early Monday morning, saying in Ukraine’s military eastern region of operations the Russian lines had been pushed back one-to-two kilometres (up to a mile-and-a-quarter) in battles pushing eastwards towards Donetsk and Bakhmut. Ukrainian soldiers are now entrenched at the new forward positions and continue to engage with Russian forces, said the minister.

Maliar called developments in the southern operational region more “significant”, saying in the pushes towards Melitopol and Berdyansk — which are both deep in Russian-occupied territory — Ukrainian forces had “de-occupied” 17 square kilometres (6.5mi²). In all, she said, this meant the area liberated in the southern command was 130 square kilometres (50mi²), or an area the same as the Edinburgh urban area or a little smaller than Staten Island in New York (58mi²) in three weeks of counter-offensive.

Reflecting on the progress of the counter-offensive so far, an intelligence digest from the UK Ministry of Defence said Ukrainian forces had “gained impetus” in their Bakhmut and Donetsk offensives and had “made progress”. Indeed, unless the Ukrainian armed forces — and their Western backers — have the stamina to sustain the war for years to come gaining impetus is important, given the sheer area of Russian-occupied Ukraine left to reclaim.

While Ukraine claims 50 square miles of de-occupied territory in three weeks of counter-offensive with its newly trained and equipped army, Crimea alone is over 10,000 square miles more territory to retake. Russia also occupies vast swathes of the Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk Oblasts, all of which are around 10,000 square miles each.

It is a realistic probability that Ukraine has yet to fully commit its full forces in the counter-offensive, and should a ‘big push’ come in time once a process of probing defences and identifying weaknesses has been completed, advances could be more rapid.

The new claims of progress from Ukraine, expressed in solid figures of miles gained come just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for patience, pouring cold water on the idea that the counter-offensive was going to be a quick progress. Zelensky even went as far as blaming Hollywood movies for giving an unrealistic impression of how rapid warfare can be, even if Ukraine and NATO have been guilty of comparing the war to movies in the past.

Nevertheless, the progress of the counter-offensive has been “slower than desired” so far, Zelensky said last week.


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