Ukrainian troops admitted that the Russians have put up a tougher fight than expected as they continue pushing into enemy-controlled territory.
Troops at the vanguard of Ukraine’s long-planned counteroffensive in the southeast region of the country said that a fierce battle last week revealed that the Russian troops are better prepared than originally anticipated.
“The Russians were waiting for us,” a 29-year-old soldier using the call-sign Bulat told Reuters in the Southern Donetsk Province.
“They fired anti-tank weapons and grenade launchers at us. My vehicle drove over an anti-tank mine, but everything was ok, the vehicle took the hit, and everyone was alive.”
Ukraine’s boldest counteroffensive yet is now in its third month. Last week’s battle of Staromaiorske gave an indication as to why the advance has been so slow — and bloody.
“Our mission was planned to take two days. But we couldn’t drive in during the darkness at the right time, for a few reasons. So we drove in later and lost the right moment,” Bulat said.
Kyiv, with billions of dollars worth of Western military equipment on hand, has admitted that the campaign has been going much slower than expected. Commanders said the deliberate pace is necessary to avoid high casualties.
The Russians have had months to dig in and fortify their defensive positions ahead of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which they had been expecting.
The Russian defenders had set up “pre-sighted zones” in anticipation of the attack, said a 24-year-old Ukrainian marine with the call-sign “Dub”.
“They methodically destroyed the roads. They made pits that prevented driving in and out of the village, even in dry weather. Even walking was quite hard. You can’t use flashlights at night, but you still have to advance,” he told Reuters.
Another soldier, using the call-sign Pikachu, said men in his unit “tried our best. We made it.”
“The dismount was not great,” the soldier acknowledged. “We advanced slowly but surely. They were shooting, everything was flying. It was scary, but we moved on. Nobody fell back. Everyone did a great job.
“Many of us who went will never return home.”
On Monday night, Russian missiles rained down on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown, killing six people and injuring at least 75 others, Ukrainian officials said.
A day earlier, Ukraine had penetrated deep into Russian territory with drone strikes that Russian authorities claimed damaged two office buildings a few miles from the Kremlin and a pig breeding complex on the countries’ border.
The strike was the fourth attack on the capital region this month and the third in a week, revealing Moscow’s vulnerability as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its 18th month.
“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia – to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process,” Zelenskyy said Sunday night.
With Post Wires