KIEV: Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky has said an expected counter offensive against Russian forces cannot happen now because his country lacks weapons, equipment and ammunition.
Zelensky’s assessment, made in a report published on Saturday in the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun, comes as reports from the front in the eastern city of Bakhmut show that Russian forces have stalled and Ukrainian defenders have consolidated their positions.
“We cannot start yet,” Zelensky said. Without tanks and artillery, “no brave soldiers” can be sent to the front, Zelensky told the paper in an interview conducted on Thursday, on a train on his way back to Kiev from visiting the front.
The British Defence Ministry, in its daily assessment of the war in Ukraine, said Russia’s attempt to take Bakhmut has stalled because of “extreme attrition” of Russian forces, likely made worse by infighting between Russia’s regular army and the mercenary Wagner Group, both of whom supply forces to the area.
It suggested that Russia has now turned its forces towards the town of Avdiivka further south and to the frontline section near Kremina and Svatove north of Bakhmut. This suggests that the Russians are returning to a more defensive position after their offensive effort, begun in January, has failed.
This dovetails with the assessment from Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army.
“Thanks to the titanic efforts of the defensive forces, the situation is managing to stabilise,” Zaluzhnyi announced on his Facebook account following a phone call with his British counterpart Tony Radakin on Friday night.
However, the section around Bakhmut is still one of the most difficult areas of the front. The British Defence Ministry noted that Ukraine has also suffered heavy casualties from fighting there.
Meanwhile, Kyiv said its forces were “managing to stabilise” the situation around Bakhmut, a now-destroyed city in eastern Ukraine that has seen the longest battle of the Russian war.