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U.S. military commander calls Ukraine offensive a ‘very tough fight’ | Arms News

Ukraine faces an uphill battle in its ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces and a move to retake territory could come “highly costly,” a senior U.S. military official said.

The U.S. review of the Kiev counteroffensive came as Chechen fighters said they had deployed to Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine to prevent an attack by a pro-Ukraine Russian guerrilla group, Ukrainian military officials reported Thursday He said progress was made at several locations on the front line.

“Ukraine has gone on the offensive, and they’re making steady progress. It’s a very tough fight. It’s a very intense fight, and it’s likely to take quite a long time and pay a high price,” said U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.

Milley, speaking after a meeting of a U.S.-led contact group of about 50 countries that provide military aid to Ukraine, said it was too early to “estimate” how long Ukraine’s counteroffensive would last.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the meeting that Kiev needed both short-term and long-term support because war was a “marathon, not a sprint” and Ukraine needed more weapons.

Austin also said that despite Russia’s initial losses, Ukraine still had enough firepower to counterattack.

Moscow has aired a video showing German Panther tanks and a U.S.-donated Bradley fighting vehicle allegedly seized as Ukraine began retaking territory from Russia.

“I think the Russians have shown us [those] The same five vehicles were filmed about 1,000 times from 10 different angles,” Austin said of the video clip. “But frankly, the Ukrainians still have a lot of fighting power, fighting power,” he said.

“It’s a war, so we know there will be battle damage on both sides,” and what’s more important is Kiev’s ability to repair damaged equipment, Austin said.

“It will continue to be an uphill battle, as we expect, and I believe the forces that do the best job of sustaining will likely have the upper hand at the end of the day,” he added.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive is in its infancy, and military experts say the decisive battle is still ahead.

Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov said on Thursday that Ukraine had captured at least seven settlements and reclaimed 100 square kilometers (38 square miles) so far in two major offensives in the south territory.

“We are ready to continue fighting for the liberation of our territory, even with bare hands,” he said. Ukrainian troops on the southern front advanced as much as 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) along the Mokry Yali line and further west near the village of Mala Tokmachka It advanced as much as 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) on another axis, Ukrainian military officials said.

“Our troops and units advance in the heat of battle [and] The enemy’s aviation and artillery superiority,” Valery Shersin, spokesman for the Tavria military department in southern Ukraine, told Ukrainian television. Progress was also reported in the east around the ruins of the city of Bakhmut, which Moscow seized last month.

But the big test of the Ukrainian offensive still lies ahead, as Ukrainian forces have yet to reach Russia’s strongest fortifications, which have retreated from the front lines. Kiev is believed to have prepared an assault force of about 12 brigades, each with thousands of soldiers, most of them using newly arrived Western armored vehicles.

The Institute for War Studies (ISW), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said on Friday that the Ukrainian military’s current actions “create the conditions for broader Ukrainian counteroffensive objectives, which are currently unclear”.

ISW said the current fighting “thus represents the initial phase of an ongoing counter-offensive”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted this week that Russian forces inflicted 10 times more Ukrainian casualties than they sustained and that the Kiev offensive had failed.

Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov also said on Thursday that fighters from the “Zapad-Akhmat” battalion had been deployed in Russia’s Belgorod region, close to the May campaign by Russian-speaking pro-Ukrainian fighters cross-border attacks.

“Residents in areas near the Ukrainian border can rest easy … Anyone who violates our borders will receive a lightning-fast response,” Kadyrov said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

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