Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that the much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive has started, as evinced by their deployment of strategic reserves, but Russian troops are holding on to their positions.
“We can state with absolute certainty that this Ukrainian counteroffensive has begun, and the use of strategic reserves points to it,” he said at a press conference here, RT reported.
President Putin said that particularly heavy fighting has been ongoing for five days, with Russian troops managing to hold their positions, while the Ukrainian military has suffered far heavier casualties than the “classic” three-to-one ratio often expected during an offensive.
However, Kiev has still retained its offensive capabilities, Putin said. He added that he expected Russian commanders to “assess the situation realistically” and act accordingly.
The Russian leader also acknowledged that Russian troops are facing shortages of modern weapons, and expressed hope that the country’s military industry will soon be able to satisfy growing demand.
He attributed the purported failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive to the effectiveness of the armaments already at the disposal of Russian forces.
On Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu revealed that the Ukrainian military had tried to break through Russian defences in Zaporozhye Region. However, this attempt was thwarted by pre-emptive artillery and aerial strikes, the official claimed.
According to the minister, Kiev’s forces suffered losses running into the thousands as a result.
On Friday, Moscow stated that Ukraine had lost up to 1,240 troops and 39 tanks in just 24 hours. Dozens of armored vehicles and artillery units, including ones provided by Western countries, were also destroyed, Russian military officials claimed.
Citing anonymous senior US officials, CNN also reported that the Ukrainian military had sustained “significant” casualties this week.