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“Significant gains”: can the Ukrainian army take over the Russians?

Ukraine's counter-offensive is advancing at a brisk pace.

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“Significant gains”: can the Ukrainian army take over the Russians?

Ukraine's counter-offensive is advancing at a brisk pace. In the south, the northeast, and in the Donbass, the forces of kyiv managed to achieve several breakthroughs in the Russian lines. "Military units penetrated enemy defenses to a depth of 50 km. During active operations in the direction of Kharkiv, more than 20 settlements were liberated," senior state official Oleksiy Gromov confirmed on Thursday. Ukrainian major at a press conference. More than 700 km2 have already been taken from the Russians, he said. A turning point since the beginning of the conflict.

"This is the first time that there has been a real offensive mounted by the Ukrainians, and we can see that their territorial gains are significant, underlines General Dominique Trinquand, military expert and former head of the French mission to the UN: The offensive action in the Kherson region, announced several weeks ago by the Ukrainian army, has probably led Russia to strip the eastern front in order to reinforce the southern one. to carry out a counter-attack there on weakened Russian positions."

On Thursday evening, Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces had taken over Balaklia, a town of 27,000 inhabitants located in the Kharkiv region. Can they impose themselves more widely? "Locally, Ukraine could be able to take over the Russian army in the regions of Kharkiv and Kherson, judge General Trinquand. The next few days will give us valuable information on this subject."

The eyes of the experts are now turning to other strategic cities, located further east. "If the Ukrainians manage to seize Kupiansk, which is an important railway hub used by Russia, this will threaten the sustainability of the Russian presence in the occupied territories", points out François Heisbourg, special adviser to the Foundation for Strategic Research. . “Ukrainian forces could also largely disrupt Russian operations in Donbass by cutting their supply line between Belgorod and Izium,” added General Trinquand.

Ukrainian soldiers on the front in the Kherson region

Metin Aktas / Anadolu Agency via AFP

Aware of the precariousness of its situation, the Russian army announced on Friday that it would send reinforcements to the Kharkiv region. On images released by the Ministry of Defense, we can see military trucks towing heavy guns and armored vehicles. "We no longer control Balaklia. Attempts to dislodge Ukrainian forces are underway, but the fighting there is fierce," Vitali Gantchev, an occupation administration official in the region, even conceded to Russian television. .

If, in the region of Kherson, in the south, the lines move less quickly, the Ukrainian army all the same "advanced deep into the enemy defenses, between two and several tens of kilometers", indicated Thursday the general staff Ukrainian. In the Donbass, an advance of two to three kilometers was also reported. “The strategic initiative passed into the hands of the Ukrainians, analyzes François Heisbourg. And this from mid-July, when the Russian offensive in the Donbass reached its limits, which allowed the Ukrainian forces to prepare their counter- offensive that we see today."

Maintaining Ukrainian offensive capabilities, however, presupposes unfailing support from the West. A point on which the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, wanted to be reassuring during a surprise visit to kyiv on Thursday. US support will continue "until Russian aggression ceases and Ukraine is fully sovereign," he said. On the same day, a new tranche of US aid of $675 million was announced, including deliveries of Himars armaments, ammunition and artillery systems, among other things.

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