Ukrainian authorities said Sunday that their military forces had recaptured Klichchiivka, a tactically important town south of the town of Bakhmut on the eastern front, but the US military and NATO believe the war will be long.
“I especially want to mention the soldiers who are returning Ukraine its territories, step by step, in the Bakhmut sector,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily video message.
“Klichtchiïvka: bravo!”, he added, listing the units that took part in the operation.
“Klichtchiïvka has been cleared of Russians,” Oleksandr Syrsky, commander of the Ukrainian land army, echoed on social networks.
This town, with a few hundred inhabitants before the Russian invasion, was taken by Russian forces in January.
This announcement comes after the Ukrainian armed forces declared on Friday that they had recaptured another locality, Andriivka, south of Bakhmut. The Russian military said on Sunday that this was not the case.
Ilia Ievlach, spokesperson for the Ukrainian troops on the Eastern Front, for his part explained that the capture of Klichtchiïvka could help the army encircle Bakhmut.
“We gained a bridgehead there which will allow us in the future to continue to carry out offensive operations and liberate our land,” he said on Ukrainian television.
“It is above all the control of logistical routes which make it possible to supply Bakhmout. It is (also) the exposure of the flanks, in particular to the south, which will allow us to advance more effectively deep into the enemy ranks” , he added.
“The railway is very important for the Russians. Fierce fighting is taking place” for its control in this area, the spokesperson argued.
Ukrainian forces are striving, in the east and south, to cut the Russian army's logistical lines which connect Russian territory to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula occupied since 2014.
During the night from Sunday to Monday, Russia claimed to have repelled Ukrainian drone offensives during the day, particularly in Crimea and near Moscow.
It also said it hit an armor repair factory in Kharkiv with missiles. Local governor Oleg Synogubov reported several attacks on Sunday, adding that "civilian" businesses had been hit.
The Ukrainian counter-offensive "has not failed" but the road to a victory for Kiev is still very long, judged the American chief of staff, General Mark Milley, in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
“This offensive, although slow, slower than expected, remained constant,” he said, affirming that the Ukrainians still had “a significant strike force”.
The general conceded, however, that it "will take a long time" to achieve Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's goal "of kicking out all the Russians" from the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also warned that we should not expect a rapid end to the war in Ukraine, in another interview published on Sunday.
“Most wars last longer than expected when they started,” Stoltenberg said in this interview with the German media group Funke.
“Therefore we must prepare for a long war in Ukraine,” he added.
Volodymyr Zelensky will be received at the White House on Thursday for new discussions with his American counterpart Joe Biden on support for kyiv against the Russian invasion.
This trip comes at a time when the American Congress is debating a new envelope of $24 billion in military aid for kyiv.
Mr. Zelensky should also go to the Capitol to meet the Republican and Democratic leadership.
Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in June to retake territories occupied by Russia, after receiving Western weapons and training new battalions.
Bakhmout, a town of 70,000 inhabitants before the invasion launched by Russia in February 2022, was taken in May by Russian forces after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of this war.
However, almost immediately, Ukrainian forces began to regain ground on the northern and southern flanks of this city.
18/09/2023 03:05:38 - Kiev (Ukraine) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP