KYIV: Kiev’s army has made a major breakthrough by breaking through Russian lines in southern Ukraine, a key general told British media this weekend, saying he now expects faster progress in the Zaporozhye region.
General Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, who is leading the southern counteroffensive, spoke days after Kiev declared a strategic victory by recapturing the southern village of Robotyne.
The interview came about as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy increasingly rejected criticism of the Kiev counteroffensive, which progressed more slowly than expected.
“We are now between the first and second lines of defense,” Tarnavskiy said.
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“At the heart of the offensive, we are now completing the destruction of enemy units that provide cover for the withdrawal of Russian troops behind their second line of defense.”
Heavily mined territory slowed Ukrainian troops, saying that sappers cleared the way on foot and at night.
Tarnavskiy told The Guardian that Moscow’s forces “just stood there and waited for the Ukrainian army”.
The newspaper quoted him as saying that Kiev’s forces were now back on their vehicles and that Russia had redeployed its troops to the area.
“The enemy is pulling reserves, not only from Ukraine, but also from Russia. But sooner or later the Russians will run out of all their best soldiers. This will give us the momentum to attack more and faster,” said Tarnavskiy. “Everything is ahead of us.”
Under the command of Tarnavskii, Ukrainian troops liberated the southern city of Kherson last year.
He said that when Kiev launched its counteroffensive in June, “it took more time than we expected to demine the territories.”
“Unfortunately, it was difficult for us to evacuate the wounded. And that also complicated our progress,” he said.
Tarnvaskiy admitted heavy losses for Kyiv.
“The closer the win, the harder it is. Why? Because unfortunately we are losing the strongest and the best,” he said.
“So now we have to focus on certain areas and get the job done. No matter how hard it is for all of us.”
On Saturday, Zelensky said he rejected criticism of the counteroffensive.
“Despite everything and no matter what anyone says, we are making progress, and that’s the most important thing,” he said on Telegram.
“We’re on the move.”
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