Ukraine: Success in reclaiming land 'gives hope' says expert
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Retired Air Vice-Marshal Sean Bell has said the recent Ukrainian counter offensives have given the “international community hope” President Zelensky’s forces can “prevail and defeat the Russians”. Mr Bell said the last few weeks had been pivotal in proving to the West, upon whom they are “heavily reliant”, they could overcome Putin’s forces, for failure to have done so would have risked “support starting to dry up”. But Ukrainian officials have warned “there is still a lot of work to be done” as both sides prepare for the next wave of fighting.
Mr Bell said: “President Zelensky is heavily reliant on money and western weapons to prevail in this fight.
“If the West believed that Ukraine was a lost cause, the challenge would be that the support would start to dry up.
“The successes of this [latest] operation very firmly give Ukraine hope, and the international community hope, that President Zelensky can prevail and defeat the Russians.
“The challenge of course for the future is [figuring out] what is Russia and President Putin’s next steps.”
Kyiv says it recaptured more than 8,000 sq km (3000 sq miles), nearly equivalent to the size of the island of Cyprus in recent months.
The speed of the advance has lifted Ukrainian morale, pleased Western backers who have provided arms, intelligence and training, and raised hopes of further significant gains before the winter sets in.
Britain’s defence ministry said in an update that Ukraine’s forces were continuing to consolidate their control of newly liberated land in the region.
And Putin appeared today to make his first acknowledgement, during a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, that Russia might be struggling in its attempts to overrun Ukraine.
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Putin told Xi: “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis.
“We understand your questions and concerns about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position.”
But Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, said it would still be a tough fight to wrest control of his region back from Russia, which recognises it as an independent state controlled by separatists.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said in an online post: “We should avoid euphoria. There is still a lot of work to be done to liberate our lands, and Russia has a large number of weapons.”
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There was no let-up either in Russia’s daily missiles strikes on Ukraine, a day after it fired cruise missiles at a reservoir dam near Kryvyi Rih, President’s Zelensky’s hometown.
Authorities in the city of Kharkiv said Russian shells had hit a high-pressure gas pipeline, while a rescue operation was underway in the city of Bakhmut with four people suspected to be trapped under rubble after a strike, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk regional governor, said.
Russian forces had launched attacks on several settlements on the Kharkiv frontline in the past 24 hours, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Thursday.
And Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned the US against supplying further longer range missiles after a further 22 sanctions were placed on Russia by the hegemonic power, saying the move would cross a “red line” and make the United States “a direct party to the conflict”.
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