Ukraine is gathering a million-strong forces equipped with Western weapons to regain Russian-occupied territory in the south of the country, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in an interview with Monday’s edition of The Times.
In the first interview with a British newspaper since the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine Reznikov said the president of the country Volodymyr Zelensky ordered the Ukrainian military to recover the occupied areas in the Black Sea region, which are crucial for the country’s economy.
“We understand that from a political point of view it is very much needed for our country. The president ordered the supreme commander of the army to draw up the plans. After that, the general staff does their homework and says that to achieve this goal, we need XYZ,” he said.
“This is my job. I write letters to counterparts in partner countries, generals talk about why we need this type of weapon, and then we get political decisions,” he explained.
“We need more, fast to save the lives of our soldiers”
Reznikov said his British counterpart Ben Wallace was key to helping change the approach to supplying weapons to Ukraine so that it would receive standard weapons instead of old Soviet equipment FOR THISincluding multi-lead missile launcher systems or technologically advanced drones.
“It was a long process, one and a half months, but we got the effect. Ukraine had an armed force from the Soviet era with thirty years of weapons. We turned it into three months” – he pointed out. He said he was satisfied with the support Ukraine receives from NATO partners, but not with the pace of delivery. “We need more, quickly, to save the lives of our soldiers. Every day, while we are waiting for the howitzers, we may lose a hundred soldiers” – argued Reznikov. He noted that Western countries increased their arms supplies only after Ukraine proved that it could fight effectively, and at the beginning of the invasion they underestimated its determination to defend itself and at the same time overestimated the strength of Russian troops.
“We looked at our partners in the eyes”
Reznikov expressed confidence that announced by the prime minister Boris Johnson his resignation will not affect his promises regarding the training of Ukrainian troops. During a visit to Kiev, Johnson offered to train 10,000 soldiers every 120 days and currently, as part of this, on training grounds in England British soldiers are already training two battalions of Ukrainian soldiers. “We looked at our partners in the eyes, I have a great relationship with Ben Wallace and James Heappey (Deputy Minister of Defense – ed.), Our Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba talks with Liz Truss, I have seen many Ukrainian flags on all official buildings and others in London than the official ones too “- emphasized Reznikov.
“Motivational cry” not “concrete plan”
The BBC correspondent in Kiev, Joe Inwood, believes that Reznikov’s statement about the millionth army being prepared for a counterattack is more “a motivational shout than a concrete plan.”
Dr. Jack Watling of the Royal United Services Institute also questions the figure provided by Reznikov. – This is not the millionth force that will carry out a counterattack – he argues. He also wonders about the purpose of his statement. – Normally, when you carry out a counterattack, you would want operational surprise, so the public announcement of this (plan – ed.) Is partly aimed at forcing the Russians to commit more resources to protect against this threat – he adds.
“Ukraine may think that the situation in which Russia is focusing its military efforts in the east of the country is a good time to try to recapture part of the south. But the truth is that most of the Ukrainian military resources are consumed by fierce fighting in the Donbas,” comments Joathan Beale, a correspondent BBC specializing in military themes.
He adds that he has spoken to many Ukrainian units that have already lost more than half of their soldiers and need reinforcements. He also notes that Ukrainian confidence has been increased by the supply of weapons from the West, including more advanced long-range artillery systems. Although – as he adds – still not in the number that the Ukrainians need.
“The question is, is Ukraine really ready to launch a major offensive in the south while its forces try to hold back Russian advances in the east?” – the journalist wonders.
As he writes, Western politicians made it clear to Ukrainian politicians and military commanders that now is not the time to undertake a serious counter-offensive. “It can improve morale, but at the same time it can easily stall,” he says. He notes that so far the Ukrainian counter-offensive operations around Kharkiv and Kherson have had limited success, and the Ukrainians “still need time to rebuild” their military potential.
Main photo source: Narciso Contreras / Anadolu / Abaca / PAP