Russia will run says Zelensky after major breakthrough for Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russian forces “will run” if Ukraine can drive home its counteroffensive.

It comes as Ukraine recaptured oil and gas drilling platforms in the Black Sea, which have been occupied by Russia since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Boika Towers had been used by Russia as landing pads for military helicopters and as a way of monitoring the movement of ships in the Black Sea.

Now, after the breakthrough in the Black Sea, Ukraine is hoping to push on in the Zaporizhzhia region, to the north east of Crimea. Securing this region had been a key aim of the Russian invasion, as it and Donetsk provide a landbridge to Crimea – which has been home to the Russian navy’s warm water fleet, which has a base at Sevastopol, for 250 years.

Read more… Ukraine’s objectives ‘no longer aligned’ with West’s as Russia ‘not a threat’

Vladimir Putin’s invading forces have dug in, creating a series of prepared defensive positions in Zaporizhzhia, with dense layers of minefields and fortifications. But, in recent weeks, Ukraine appears to have made slow-but-steady progress against Russia. 

But Ukraine has had some success in dismantling the first of Russia’s three main defensive lines. Last month, Ukrainian forces liberated the village of Robotyne – and analysts suggest the battle will have degraded Putin’s forces.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said this was likely to have weakened Russia’s ability to sustain complex defensive operations – and would have almost certainly disrupted any Russian intent to resume offensive operations at scale.

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Now, in an interview published yesterday (Sunday, September 10), Zelensky said this sort of steady progress was essential to maintaining Ukrainian morale. And he said that if Ukraine can attack the Russian defences from the south, Putin’s forces will flee.

Zelensky told the Economist: “Keeping morale high is crucial. This is why even limited progress on the frontline is essential.

“Now we have movement. It’s important. If we push them from the south, they will run.”

However, Zelensky warned that a Ukrainian victory would not come “tomorrow or the day after tomorrow”. But he said the Russian army is losing “lots of people” – and has had to redeploy its reserves to stop the Ukrainian advance.

“It means they lose,” he added.

And, in his nightly address yesterday (Sunday, September 10) Zelensky said that Ukrainian troops have advanced on the southern front and made ground in the past week near Bakhmut in the east.

The President said: “Over the past seven days we have made an advance in the Tavria (southern) sector. There is movement in the Bakhmut sector. Yes, there is movement.”

Meanwhile, he also said that Ukrainian forces were holding their ground against Russian attacks in Donetsk.

In his address on Monday night (September 11), Zelensky said he had “good news”. He told “dear Ukrainians” that “we are preparing to strengthen the package of defence support from Germany”. He said this would include air defence systems, artillery and other equipment.

However, he also acknowledged that, “since this morning, various Ukrainian cities and regions have been hit by Russian attacks”. He said there had been “brutal Russian shelling” in multiple areas, not just the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.

“Even when there is a relative peace and quiet in some parts of our territory, we should always remember our land, our cities, and villages that are almost constantly under fire,” said Zelensky.

“And even though today is the 565th day of this war, all of us, each and everyone in Ukraine, should remain focused on defending the state just as we did in the early days. Russia does not hope to win. The enemy hopes only that we will not endure. Ukraine must endure. Anything that strengthens us is a priority. And only that is a priority.”

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