- Zelensky says more armored vehicles would reduce casualties
- Kiev says Russian forces pushed back 2 km near Pakmut
- The Kremlin admits the situation is ‘very difficult’
May 11 (Reuters) – Ukraine is burning until Western armored vehicles arrive before launching a long-awaited counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview published on Thursday.
“We need a little more time,” Zelensky said in an interview with European broadcasters, according to Britain’s BBC.
Ukrainian forces had already received enough equipment for the campaign from Western allies, but some of the promised armored vehicles were still arriving. Waiting a little longer for them would reduce casualties, he said.
“With [what we have] We can go forward and win,” he said. “But we will lose a lot of people. I think this is unacceptable.”
The war in Ukraine is at a turning point, with Kyiv poised to unleash its new counteroffensive after six months on the defensive, while Russia launches a major winter offensive that has failed to capture significant territory.
Western allies are sending hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine for its counteroffensive and have trained thousands of Ukrainian troops abroad.
Moscow’s main target for months has been the small eastern Ukrainian city of Baghmut, which has come close to being captured but remains its only prize after months of Europe’s bloodiest ground war since World War II.
In recent days, Ukraine has made gains on the outskirts of the city. Both the Ukrainian division and the head of Russia’s Wagner Private Army say a Russian brigade left its positions and gave ground southwest of Pakmut on Tuesday.
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces said on Wednesday that Russian forces had retreated up to 2 km from the front line in several places.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not comment on the reports, but overnight Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted the battle was “very difficult”.
He said he had no doubt that Bagmuth would be “caught and brought under control.”
In Brussels, NATO’s top military official said the war would increasingly be a battle between poorly trained Russian troops with outdated equipment and a small Ukrainian force with better Western weapons and training.
Admiral Rob Bauer, the Dutch officer who heads NATO’s military group, said Russia is deploying T-54 tanks – an older model designed in the post-World War II years.
Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Olena Harmash, Pavel Polityuk, David Ljunggren and Ron Popeski; Editing by Peter Graf, Alex Richardson, David Gregorio and Diane Croft
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