Ukrainians demonstrate resilience as counteroffensive reclaims 50% of seized territories
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that Ukrainians have made significant strides in pushing back Russian invaders, recapturing approximately 50% of the territories seized since the invasion. Despite the ongoing challenges faced by Ukraine, Blinken emphasized their unwavering resistance and dismissed Russia’s failed objective to erase Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.
Blinken asserted, “They’ve already lost. The objective was to erase Ukraine from the map, to eliminate its independence, its sovereignty, to subsume it into Russia.” While recognizing the toughness of the fight, he commended the Ukrainian people for their determination and resilience.
“It’s already taken back about 50% of what was initially seized,” Blinken stated confidently. “Now they’re in a very hard fight to take back more. These are still relatively early days of the counteroffensive.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a joint press conference with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, claimed that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had failed. However, Blinken emphasized that the international support extended to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, while helpful, could not compare to the Ukrainian people’s resolve.
“Unlike the Russians, Ukrainians are fighting for their land, for their future, for their country, for their freedom,” Blinken stressed. “I think that is the decisive element, and that’s going to play out. But it will not play out over the next week or two. We’re still looking, I think, at several months.”
Zelenskyy, in a separate interview with Fareed Zakaria, expressed his frustrations over the delay in commencing the counteroffensive, attributing it to a lack of necessary weaponry and properly trained brigades. He revealed that the plans to begin the operation were initially scheduled for the spring but were hindered due to the unavailability of munitions and armaments.
“We did have plans to start it in spring,” Zelenskyy disclosed. “But we didn’t, because, frankly, we had not enough munitions and armaments, and not enough brigades properly trained in these weapons. Still more, the training missions were held outside Ukraine.”
Blinken addressed Zelenskyy’s request for US-made F-16 fighter jets, acknowledging that the authorization process was ongoing. He highlighted the importance of Ukraine’s responsible and strategic use of these advanced aircraft.
“It’s not just the equipment itself,” Blinken clarified. “It’s the training, it’s the maintenance, it’s the ability to use it in combined arms operations. All of that takes time. If a decision were made to actually move forward on the F-16s tomorrow, it would be months and months before they were actually operational.”
While there has been a previous commitment to deliver F-16s to Ukraine by the end of 2023, the US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby cautioned that the fighter jets alone would not be sufficient to turn the tide of the conflict.
In the midst of these developments, Ukraine and Russia exchanged accusations of attacks targeting each other. The Associated Press reported that Russia blamed Ukraine for a drone attack near the Defense Ministry’s main headquarters in Moscow, while Ukraine accused Russia of attacking port infrastructure in southern Ukraine, resulting in injuries and destruction.
As the conflict continues, the world watches closely as Ukraine perseveres in its fight for independence and territorial integrity. With the Ukrainian people demonstrating remarkable resilience and the support of international allies, the hope is that peace and stability will soon be restored to the region.