A commander said that Ukrainian troops, who have been on the defensive for months, will soon attack again because Russia’s offensive seems to be faltering. However, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that the war could last for years if arms don’t get there faster.
Zelenskiy said that Europe needs to speed up and get more weapons, including long-range missiles, ammunition, and modern planes. He also said that more sanctions should be put on Russia.
“If Europe waits, the bad guys might have time to regroup and get ready for years of war,” Zelenskiy said in a video message to EU leaders from a train on Thursday. He was clearly angry.
At the EU summit, leaders approved a plan agreed by foreign ministers on Monday to send 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year. They also talked about food security around the world and sanctions against Russia.
Britain has pledged to supply armour piercing munitions containing depleted uranium to help destroy Russian tanks, a step President Vladimir Putin said would force a response from Russia as the weapons had “a nuclear component”. Read full story
Slovakia said on Thursday that it had given Ukraine the first four of the MiG-29 planes it had promised. The rest will be sent in the next few weeks.
Oleksandr Syrskyi, who is in charge of Ukraine’s ground forces, said that his troops would soon start a counterattack after withstanding Russia’s harsh winter campaign.
He said that Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, who have been at the front of Moscow’s attack on eastern and southern Ukraine, “are losing a lot of strength and are running out of steam.”
“Very soon, we will take advantage of this chance, just like we did near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya, and Kupiansk last year,” he said, naming Ukrainian counteroffensives that took back large areas of land.
Moscow didn’t respond right away to claims that its forces in Bakhmut were losing ground, but Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has said in recent days that Ukrainian forces could launch a counterattack.
On Monday, Prigozhin sent a letter to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saying that Ukraine wanted to separate Wagner’s troops from Russia’s regular troops.
Near the front line, north of Bakhmut, Reuters reporters saw signs that the Russian offensive in the area might be coming to an end. At a Ukrainian-held village west of Soledar, on Bakhmut’s northern outskirts, the intensity of the Russian bombardment noticeably lessened from two days earlier.
A Ukrainian soldier with the call sign “Kamin,” which means “Stone,” said, “It was really hot here a week ago, but it’s been quieter the last three days.”
“This is clear from the enemy’s air attacks. “There used to be five or six air raids a day, but today there was only one attack by a helicopter,” the soldier said.
If Russia slows down in Bakhmut, it could be because it is moving troops and resources to other places.
Britain said on Thursday that Russian troops had made progress further north this month, partly regaining control of the areas around the town of Kreminna. Further south, there were also fierce battles going on.
Oleh Zhdanov, a military expert from Ukraine, agreed with this assessment. He said on YouTube that Russia was putting less effort into attacking Bakhmut and putting more effort into attacking the town of Avdiivka to the south.
He said that Russia’s forces have become more active in the northern regions of Kharkiv, Luhansk, central Zaporizhzhia, and southern Kherson.
Any shift in momentum in Bakhmut, if confirmed, would be remarkable given the city’s symbolic importance as the focus of Russia’s offensive, and the scale of the losses on both sides there in Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War Two.
Since November, the front lines in Ukraine have been frozen for the most part. A few weeks ago, it looked like Ukraine would leave Bakhmut, but they decided to keep fighting.
Zelenskiy started his tour of front-line provinces on Wednesday. On Thursday, he went to the Kherson region in the south, a day after meeting with troops near Bakhmut.
A video showed him talking to people in Posad Pokrovske, a bombed-out village on the former front line in Kherson that Ukraine took back during its last big advance last year.
In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in what it called a “special military operation.” It did this because it thought Ukraine’s ties to the West were a security risk. Since then, tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides have been killed.
Russia has destroyed Ukrainian cities and set millions of people to flight. It says that it has taken over almost 20% of Ukraine. Kyiv and the rest of the world see the war as an attack on an independent country without a reason.
Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, said that the EU would work to find Ukrainian children who were sent to Russia and try to get them back. She said 16,200 children had been deported and only 300 returned to Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court put out a warrant for Putin’s arrest last week because he took Ukrainian children against their will.
“It is a horrible reminder of the darkest times of our history … to deport children. Von der Leyen said, “This is a war crime.”