Ukraine denounced that Russia has more than 400,000 soldiers deployed in the occupied territories in the east and south of the country

Members of the Russian armed forces at a ceremony in Rostov-on-Don (REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov) (SERGEY PIVOVAROV/)

kyiv estimates that Russia has deployed more than 400,000 troops in the areas it controls in eastern and southern Ukraineas stated this Saturday by the Ukrainian Deputy Chief of Intelligence Vadym Skibitsky.

“The Russian Federation has concentrated more than 420,000 military personnel in our temporarily occupied territories, including Crimea”Skibitsky said at a conference in kyiv. The figure “does not include the Russian National Guard and other special units that maintain occupation authorities in our territories,” he added.

Skibitsky also said that Russia has been actively launching attacks from Crimea for a month, which was annexed in 2014.

“The drones deployed in Crimea are used against our Izmail and Reni ports”, which have been used as an alternative export hub, particularly since the expiration of an agreement protecting exports in the Black Sea.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the east and south in June but has run into fierce resistance from entrenched Russian forces.

kyiv troops also face new assaults around Kharkiv (northeast), in areas liberated last year.

“The Russians want revenge” in the Kharkiv region, declared Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar.

He said Russian troops were trying to disperse Ukrainian forces in the east: “So that we cannot centralize them around Bakhmut, where we are successfully advancing.” And he recognized that “The enemy is strong, he has more people and weapons.”

Last week alone, he added, Moscow’s army fired “about 400,000 shells” against Ukrainian positions on the eastern front, while Kiev’s forces can use “eight times less” ammunition, he noted.

Ukrainian military prepares to fire a US-supplied M777 howitzer at Russian positions from the Kharkiv region, Ukraine (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian soldiers prepare to fire a US-supplied M777 howitzer at Russian positions from the Kharkiv region, Ukraine (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) (Evgeniy Maloletka/)

Facing bad autumn weather

On the other hand, Ukraine urged the West to to accelerate the supply of fighters and long-range weaponsjust when the United States would consider sending ATACMS missiles to promote their counteroffensive at the gates of autumnwhile being on alert for possible Russian attacks against energy infrastructure.

This Saturday, the American television network ABC He stated that “it is likely” that the Government of President Joe Biden will send ATACMS to Ukraine. “They are coming,” said one official who had access to the security assistance plans, while a second said that no decision has been made yet, but that missiles are “on the table” and will likely be included in an upcoming military aid package.

The range of these missiles, depending on the version, would allow Ukraine to hit targets almost four times further than with the rockets it currently possesses.

Block all movement of the Russians

Mikhailo Podoliak, advisor to the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, stated this Saturday that the shipment to Ukraine of long-range missiles, including ATACMS, It would send a clear psychological message to Russia that there is no longer a “mythical” fear of Moscow. and in practice it would allow “significantly accelerate the destruction of Russia’s rear resources.”

This in turn would result in “a complete disruption of transport logistics” for Russia, blocking its ability to rotate troops and, consequently, in “a sharp reduction in the combat readiness of the occupation forces in the first and second defensive echelon.”

Ukrainian forces have managed in recent weeks with their counteroffensive to penetrate some segments of the front in the southeastern region of Zaporozhye on the first line of Russian defense and are also trying to pierce the second.

At least one person has been injured by a Russian bombing this Friday against civilian targets in the center of the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhzhia (EuropaPress)
At least one person has been injured by a Russian bombing this Friday against civilian targets in the center of the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhzhia (EuropaPress) (-/Ukrinform/dpa/)

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), geolocated images from Friday indicate that Ukrainian forces have made new advances northwest of the occupied town of Verbove, in western Zaporizhzhia, but also near the liberated neighboring village of Robotyne, from where they push south.

Despite this new impulse, Zelensky pointed out the day before that “the war is slowing down.”

“All processes are becoming more complicated and slower: from sanctions to the supply of weapons,” he said during the Yalta European Strategy conference.

The president stressed that each weapon has a specific impact and “the more powerful and long-range it is, the faster the counteroffensive will be.”

Accelerate the counteroffensive with longer range weapons

“If we are not in heaven and Russia is, they stop our counteroffensive”emphasized Zelensky, who this Saturday met in kyiv with the Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, with whom he agreed to begin negotiations on bilateral security guarantees.

Ukraine has been asking the US for months to send ATACMS long-range tactical missiles, with a maximum range of 300 kilometers, but until now it has been reluctant for fear that the country could use them against territory inside Russia with the resulting retaliation. unpredictable of the Kremlin.

The United Kingdom has indeed sent Storm Shadow missiles, capable of flying more than 250 kilometers, and France has promised in July to also send long-range rockets.

(With information from AFP and EFE)