The progress made by the Ukrainian counteroffensive over the past few weeks has been commended by the US, the UK and NATO.
And the Director of Analysis of the Intelligence Service of the US Department of Defense believes it is possible Kyiv’s Armed Forces will break through the entire Russian defence on the southern front by the end of the year.
The US Defence Department spoke of a 40-50 percent probability.
However, Ukraine’s Armed Forces are commonly believed among analysts to have a relatively small window of no more than seven weeks to breach through their enemy’s lines.
Russian online magazine Republic – which has opposed the war in Ukraine – wrote that in a bid to achieve success, Ukraine risks using all its reserves before approaching the last line of defence.
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The Ukrainian counteroffensive was launched in early June, days before the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.
The campaign was initially described as slow by many Western commentators, while others noted the troops were not just facing Russian soldiers and air strikes but were also crossing a highly mined area which slowed down the advances.
But the pace of the Ukrainian troops appears to have clearly picked up in recent weeks, and on Tuesday Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-appointed governor of Ukraine’s occupied Zaporizhzhia region, admitted his country’s army had abandoned the village of Robotyne.
However, he described the decision to abandon the village as “tactical”, claiming it would benefit Moscow.
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By holding the village located in Zaporizhzhia, one of the four regions partially occupied by Russia following its invasion, Ukrainian forces will be able to further advance south towards Crimea.
Speaking about the grinding counteroffensive on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv was making “very tangible progress”.
Mr Blinken, who is visiting Ukraine to underscore his country’s commitment to supporting the invaded nation, added: “I think we are seeing real forward movement. But again, this is going to go on. This is tough, this is hard.”
Also on Thursday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said “Ukrainians are gradually gaining ground and it proves the importance of our support and also our ability and willingness to continue the support”.
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He added: “This is heavy fighting, difficult fighting, but they have been able to breach the defensive lines of the Russian forces, and they are moving forward.”
While no country has joined Ukraine on the battlefield, several NATO members have delivered military aid including battle tanks and armoured vehicles to support its push.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also praised Ukraine on Thursday and pushed back the accusation the counteroffensive was coming about slower than expected.
His spokesperson said: “It’s not for me to get into the operational progress of the Ukrainian armed forces but I think what’s clear to see is the Ukrainian military are doing an incredible job against a much larger military and should be commended for their efforts.
“It is testament to the bravery of the Ukrainian armed forces and the support they’ve received from around the world, including from the people of the UK.”
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