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Ukraine foreign minister pushes back against counteroffensive doubters

Ukraine foreign minister pushes back against counteroffensive doubters

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Paul Ronzheimer is the deputy editor-in-chief of BILD and a senior journalist reporting for Axel Springer, the parent company of POLITICO.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday pushed back against growing doubts about the prospects for the counteroffensive that Kyiv is waging against Russia’s all-out invasion of his country.

At the same time, Kuleba urged Kyiv’s allies to continue supplying Ukrainian armed forces with the assistance needed to make its military push succeed.

His remarks in an interview with Axel Springer, POLITICO’s parent company, come as the counteroffensive struggles to achieve a major breakthrough. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community assesses that the Ukrainian push will fail to achieve a key goal: the southeastern city of Melitopol, a strategic Russian logistics hub.

“We take such remarks in stride,” Kuleba said in the interview. “According to unnamed officials, generals and analysts, Ukraine should have ceased to exist within three to 10 days in February 2022,” when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, he said.

“They now expect that Ukraine will not be able to reclaim all of its territory swiftly,” he said. “This demonstrates that even doubters become more hopeful with time.”

Earlier this week, Ukrainian forces managed to liberate the critical village of Urozhaine in the Donetsk region, widening their push into Russian defenses on the southern front. But the Ukrainian army is struggling to advance, especially on the eastern front, as it encounters heavily mined areas.

“Analysts should be more cautious in their projections and far-reaching forecasts,” Kuleba said in the interview.

“We don’t need to prove anything; our success will reward optimists while ruining the reputation of doubters,” he said.

“What we do need, though, is more long-range capabilities to achieve more short-term results,” Kuleba said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Sweden on Saturday for talks about such capabilities — specifically Swedish Gripen fighter aircraft. That followed news on Friday that the Netherlands and Denmark received approval from the U.S. to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. 

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