▲ Ukrainian Audiivka police took cover for Russian shelling
The commander of Ukraine's ground forces has warned that Russia will soon launch a counteroffensive, saying its forces have been exhausted as it concentrates its offensive on the battleground Bakhmut.
According to AFP and Reuters on the 23rd (local time), the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Sirsky, said in a telegram that day that "the aggressors are not giving up hope of capturing Bakhmut, despite the loss of manpower and equipment, they have lost considerable strength and are completely exhausted, leaving nothing behind."
"Sooner or later we will seize our chances, as we did in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Baraklia and Kupiansk."
Ukraine fended off Russia's Kyouu offensive, which lasted for more than a month after the start of the war last year, and then in September last year it managed to regain most of the northeastern Kharkiv Oblast, including Baraklia and Kupiansk.
Commander Kirsky was the one who successfully commanded the Ukrainian counteroffensive at that time.
His comments came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revisited the Bakhmut region for the first time in three months.
Bakhmut was on the verge of being completely surrounded by Russia earlier this month after President Zelensky's visit in December last year, but recent analysts say Russia's offensive will soon reach its limit.
Ukraine has focused on defense in the face of Russia's continued aggression in recent years, stockpiling Western-backed modern tanks and long-range missiles, conducting troop drills and preparing for a large-scale counterattack.
This is in line with last year's resounding success in counterattacks on Kharkiv and southern Kherson with the armored forces it had accumulated with its high-speed mobile artillery rocket system (HIMARS) and armored forces in September and November, when Russia's troop and resource depletion was at a fever pitch.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary company that spearheaded the Bakhmut offensive, also recently said that a Ukrainian counterattack was imminent.
In a letter to the Russian Ministry of Defense on Jan. 9, he claimed that "a large-scale attack by Ukraine is scheduled for late March or early April," without disclosing the source or basis of the information.
"We call for all necessary measures to ensure that the Wagner Group is isolated from the main force of the Russian Armed Forces and does not have negative consequences for the 'Special Military Operation.'"
His disclosure of the letter has led to analysis in the West that it may have been intended to disrupt Ukraine or to shift the blame to the Pentagon in the event of a defeat at Bakhmut.
(Photo=AP, Yonhap News)