Kyiv is launching a major effort against Russian forces in southern Ukraine, according to officials and analysts.
This new push, which includes deployment of Western-supplied weapons and an increased numbers of soldiers, is a part of the weekslong counteroffensive launched by Ukraine and comes as fighting continues to intensify along the front line of the war. A Western official — who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter — told The Associated Press (AP) on Wednesday that the increased number of troops and firepower has been focused in the region of Zaporizhzhia.
Although Ukraine has remained largely silent on its counteroffensive plans, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram that Ukrainian forces were “gradually advancing” toward the city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that “hostilities have intensified significantly” in southeastern Ukraine, the AP reported.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, Ukrainian forces mounted “a significant mechanized counteroffensive operation in [the] western Zaporizhzhia region” Wednesday. The institute, which cited Russian sources, also said Ukrainian forces “appear to have broken through certain pre-prepared Russian defensive positions.”
According to its sources, the institute said that the results of the counteroffensive in the region were “unclear.”
“Russian sources provided a wide range of diverging claims as to the scale of both the attack and resulting Ukrainian losses, indicating that the actual results and Ukrainian losses remain unclear,” the think tank wrote.
This also comes just days after the U.S. announced additional assistance for Ukraine, including additional munitions and ammunitions valued at $400 million. During a visit to New Zealand, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “an intense battle” is taking place in Ukraine, noting that the U.S. assistance provided should aid them.
“We believe that tools, the equipment, the training, the advice that many of us have shared with Ukrainians over many months puts them in good position to be successful on the ground in recovering more of the territory that Russia has taken from Ukraine,” Blinken said.
Source : The Hill