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HUR chief rejects "catastrophe" label for Ukrainian counteroffensive of 2023

Kyrylo Budanov
Kyrylo Budanov

Ukrainian counteroffensive in 2023 cannot be called a "catastrophe," said Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's HUR military intelligence service’s chief in an interview with the Financial Times on Jan. 21.

"To say that everything is fine is not true,” Budanov said, responding to assessments that the counter-offensive fell short of its objectives.

“To say that there is a catastrophe is also not true. Although the original plans suggested something different, we kept our promise. This summer, our units repeatedly entered Crimea."

Ukraine will be able to keep Russian dictator Vladimir Putin at bay and has already proved that “the whole legend of [Russia’s] power is a soap bubble,” Budanov said.

Thanks to weapons from North Korea, Russia was able to "breathe a little," and without this help "the situation would have been catastrophic" for Moscow, he said.

Read also: Russian forces intensify attacks amidst freezing conditions, suffer sharp increase in losses — UK intelligence

Budanov also commented on mobilization in Ukraine, saying that it is hard to imagine that it is possible to continue the war effort without recruiting additional people.

"The shortage [of manpower] is palpable," he said.

The Ukrainian counter-offensive, announced in spring 2023 alongside the formation of a Western tank coalition and the delivery of Western-style tanks, faced various setbacks.

The Defense Ministry declared the transition to offensive operations in early June 2023, reporting success in the Zaporizhzhya sector.

Western media then stated that Ukraine had begun a counter-offensive, reporting attacks by the AFU on the frontlines in the southeastern part of the country, as well as "significant" equipment losses.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed on June 10 the start of the counter-offensive.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) successfully liberated several villages on the border of Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk oblasts in June. The Defense Ministry reported that Ukrainian troops were engaged in a preparatory formative operation, saying that the main offensive was yet to come.

Read also: North Korea now aiding overstretched Russia, stepping into role as top weapons provider — intel head

Western media publications later began to suggest that the AFU's progress was lagging, a situation that can partly be attributed to extensively reinforced Russian defense lines. President Zelenskyy acknowledged that the counter-offensive was falling short of its desired pace.

In late June, Western media began to note that Ukraine had begun to change tactics after failures in the first stage. The Washington Post later said that Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi abandoned the original plan after four days.

Ukraine has been disappointed that some of its allies seem to have underestimated the scale of the battlefield and the strength of Russian defenses, possibly causing them to deliver military aid more slowly and hindering the counter-offensive’s progress, said Bloomberg.

President Zelenskyy has nevertheless asserted that Ukraine "remains strong" and emphasized that Ukraine achieved a number of remarkable successes in the Black Sea and in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine