Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his military needs more time to prepare for a highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces, according to an interview published by the BBC on Thursday.
“With (what we have) we can go forward and be successful. But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable. So we need to wait. We still need a bit more time,” he was quoted as saying.
Ukrainian forces have been training a new contingent of forces and stockpiling Western-supplied munitions and hardware that analysts say will be key to reclaiming territory captured by Russia.
The timing of Kyiv’s effort to claw back ground in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, remains a question.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said late last month that Kyiv’s preparations were “coming to an end” and his forces were ready “in a global sense”.
But he also said that Abrams tanks promised by the US would not be able to take part in the offensive because they would not arrive in Ukraine until the end of this year.
The head of Russia’s Wagner private military company Yevgeny Prigozhin meanwhile accused Zelensky of being “dishonest” in his BBC interview saying that Ukraine’s counter-offensive “is in full swing”.
A senior Ukrainian military official said earlier this week that Russian forces had dropped back from some areas near Bakhmut after limited counter-attacks by Kyiv’s forces around the eastern city.
Prigozhin, whose forces are on the front line of the battle for Bakhmut, admitted that some Ukrainian units were successfully breaking through in some areas.
“The Ukrainian army’s plan is in action… All the units which have been trained, which have received weapons, tanks and everything they need are already fully engaged,” he said.
Prigozhin is involved in a long-running dispute with Russian military chiefs over ammunition supplies for his fighters and he has threatened to pull them out of Bakhmut.
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