Ukraine’s armed forces have recaptured almost as much territory in five weeks of counteroffensive as the Russian army has captured in the past six months, according to a report by the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
As of July 10, liberation operations are underway on three sections of the front: the Bakhmut, Berdyansk and Melitopol fronts. According to analysts, the AFU has managed to recapture 253 km², while Russian forces have occupied 282 km² in the entire theater of military operations since January 1.
At the same time, ISW note that the figures in the official reports of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry differ from the analysts’ data because Kyiv “calculated its initial control over the territory differently”. ISW, on the other hand, used the “apples to apples” principle and compared the achievements of the troops of both armies.
Earlier in the General Staff of the AFU reported that over the past week in the Bakhmut direction was released 4 km², and a total of 24 km² since the beginning of the counteroffensive. In the Berdyansk and Melitopol directions, Ukrainian troops advanced up to 1 km², and in total – by 8.6 km².
This is not the first time that Kyiv’s figures have diverged from the assessments of its Western allies. Thus, on June 26, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that the AFU had recaptured about 300 km², which was twice as much as the official figure. Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov explained this by the fact that the General Staff did not publicize “certain successes” in order not to expose the troops.
According to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar as of July 10, a total of 168.6 km² was recaptured in the south of the country and 24 km² in the east. She also said that the Russians were trapped near Bakhmut: the AFU has been holding the town under fire control for several days. “This became possible because in the process of advancing our troops took control of the main dominant heights around Bakhmut”, Malyar noted.
The commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, Oleksandr Syrsky, confirmed the same. “The work continues. On the Bakhmut direction the enemy is knocked out of positions”, – he reported.
Despite the fact that the counter-offensive may be more successful than publicly stated, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized that the AFU is advancing “slower than we would like”. The same assessment was voiced by Western allies, noting that this is happening because the Russian army has seriously mined the captured territories and built a powerful system of fortifications. To take control of such positions, the AFU needs to cover them with artillery fire, then advance with armored vehicles and infantry.
Earlier, Zelensky said that he proposed to launch a counteroffensive earlier and asked the US and EU for arms and ammunition for this purpose, but due to delays in deliveries, Russia was given time to strengthen its defenses. He also said that in some areas the AFU could not “even think about launching” operations because they still did not have “appropriate weapons”.
In his turn, the AFU commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhny noted that he was irritated by talk about the slow advance of the Ukrainian army. According to him, “every meter is given with blood”, and the military lacks weapons and aviation.
On June 11, at the opening of the NATO summit in Vilnius, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the results of the counteroffensive were “extremely important” for Ukraine’s future. He said the Ukrainian armed forces had already made some gains but were meeting resistance from the Russian military entrenched in a year-long war that mined everything around them. “Of course, this is a challenge. But the only answer from our side is to continue to support Ukraine”, Stoltenberg emphasized.