Ukrainian soldiers reject criticism that their counteroffensive is too slow: ‘You need to move slowly, but always’ – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Ukrainian soldiers reject criticism that their counteroffensive is too slow: ‘You need to move slowly, but always’

A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on May 30 2023

REUTERS/Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

Two Ukrainian soldiers pushed back against those claiming Ukraine’s counteroffensive is too slow.
The soldiers told Insider they’re making progress despite Russia’s better weapons and deep defenses.
They said they are short on key weapons and choosing tactics that keep their troops alive.

Ukrainian soldiers are pushing back against criticism their counteroffensive against Russia isn’t going quick enough.

Ukraine launched its attack in June, and while it has succeeded in regaining some territory, progress has not been sweeping enough to significantly reshape the conflict.

Two soldiers with units on the front lines of Ukraine’s fight told Insider that any such criticism was unfair and ill-informed.

They argued that they and their comrades are making progress, but have to contend with Russia’s extensive preparations and strong advantage in terms of weaponry.

Many in the West sympathize with the slow progress. But German intelligence was more damning, recently describing Ukraine’s progress as too slow, arguing that Ukraine was failing to make use of its Western training.

Vitaliy Kryukov, a loitering-munition commander for the elite Adam Tactical Group, said Ukraine was being held back by heavy Russian artillery.

Kryukov and other Adam forces have been in the eastern city of Bakhmut since February, where fighting has been intense.

He said it took his forces two weeks to get through an area around one square mile.

“Unfortunately, that part is flat, and it has not many places to hide away. The enemy used heavy shelling tactics to prevent our assault.”

He shared this image of the crater-marked ground that he had to advance through.

Drone footage of the area Ukraine’s troops moved through near Bakhmut in July, marked by artillery hits.

Vitaliy Kryukov

He said they found Russia well-prepared. “That’s why the assault doesn’t go that fast, because obviously the Russians are ready for that.”

Unlike Ukraine’s quick counteroffensive late in 2022, when it regained swathes of territory in the northeast of the country, the current pushback was anticipated and Russia dug in hard.

Kryukov said Ukraine has to pick tactics that save as many of its soldiers as possible: “I think for the Ukrainian army, it’s no other choice but to make sure our loss is not drastic losses, even despite of the assault campaign.”

He added, laughing: “I wouldn’t wish to anyone to be in a place of our commander-in-chief. So much responsibility.”

He said it is clear from planning sessions he attends that Ukraine’s military leaders are prioritizing keeping their troops alive.

“For sure the main task is obviously to clear up our land from these cold people,” he said. “But not at any cost, I would say. It’s always the question from our commanders: How risky is that?”

In contrast, he said, Russia often chose tactics that showed little regard for keeping people alive.

A second source gave a similar account to Insider, speaking on the condition that he was identified only by his rank. Insider has verified his identity.

The soldier, a deputy battalion commander also fighting near Bakhmut, told Insider that anybody who thought the counteroffensive could move quickly was wrong.

He said that some in the West think “it must be something very easy, something very fast and glorious.”

“But no: In our situation you need to move slowly, but always.”

“You need to move, dig, move, dig, move, dig, you know? Because Russian artillery, they have a lot. It is like rain. They are using it very often. “

Ukraine’s troops are now often operating from trenches to try hide from Russia’s artillery and drones, while vast minefields slow down their movement.

This includes in the battle for Bakhmut, which has been one of the longest and bloodiest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine’s forces were pushed outside the city earlier this year, but are now making some gains once more.

The deputy commander said Ukraine was making progress there, with small results every day.

“We are attacking, we are taking back our land.”

But both soldiers said Ukraine needs more weapons to make more progress, echoing calls from their military leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Kryukov said Russia is fighting with more advanced weapons than Ukraine is: it has military-grade drones while his unit is working with civilian gear.

He said more long-range missiles would help provide cover for quicker infantry advances.

The deputy commander said Ukraine needed more mortar shells and tanks, and lamented Russia’s air superiority in the area. He noted that Ukraine’s air-defense was stretched too, with too little ammo. “We need more.”

These problems are unlikely to be fixed soon. Western allies have been reluctant to meet all Ukraine’s requests, especially for the much-delayed F-16 jets which Ukraine says could help it counter Russian air power.

But experts say they see Ukraine making progress in its fight all the same, and that it appears to have ramped up in the last two weeks. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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