The Ukraine counteroffensive, which began on a strong note a few days ago, with gains near Bakhmut, has been slowing down, with fierce attacks by Russia in retaliation. This is evident from the admission of Hanna Maliar, Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister, who said yesterday that her country’s troops, trying to advance in the east and the south, had managed only “partial success” in the previous 24 hours, able to move forward only a few hundred metres.
This seems to corroborate what Russian President Vladimir Putin said recently in a televised interaction with military bloggers. He said that the counteroffensive had cost Russia 54 tanks whereas Ukraine lost about 160.
As Russia pounded the smaller country with missiles, especially hurting the port city of Odesa in the southwest, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went on Twitter to say that the Russian side was using missiles that had “critical components” from “companies around the world, including companies from some partner countries”. He gave the example of Russian missiles that hit the town of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, killing 12 people, reportedly, this week; those missiles had “about 50 components in it — mostly microelectronics — [that] were produced in other countries”.
Zelenskyy said that representatives of Ukraine were meeting with diplomats from those supplier countries in order to talk about stopping the sale of components. He emphasised that Ukraine was lobbying for global sanctions on all companies that supplied weapons components to Russia in order to “stop missile terror”.
Russia has inflicted heavy damage on Odesa with cruise missile strikes within the past couple of days, targeting supply lines essential for the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Ukraine has admitted that its troops were facing Russian military “superiority”, as the missile strikes killed three people in a warehouse in Odesa.
A social media post by Ukrainian minister Hanna Maliar said: “Our troops are moving in the conditions of extremely fierce battles, aviation and artillery superiority of the enemy.” However, the post claimed that Russia, too, was suffering big hits.
The Western allies of Ukraine said that the country was “taking significant casualties” and “making slow progress” towards the main line of defence set up by Russia. The Guardian reported, quoting a Western official, that “the Russian manoeuvre and defence approach is proving challenging for Ukraine and costly to attacking forces, hence the advance at the moment is slow”. The Guardian also reported that “Kalibr missiles hit Odesa at 2.40am on Wednesday, setting a warehouse, a business centre, an educational institution, restaurants and shops ablaze”.
A Ukrainian defence spokesperson said that the Russians were pinpointing attacks on logistical support elements for the counteroffensive, as observed by the missile strikes on Odesa.
Pro-Ukraine social media posts continued to claim that the country was liberating various regions from the control of Russia through the counteroffensive.