Ukraine security chief says Kyiv is ‘halfway to victory’ with the worst yet to come
Secretary for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council on Wednesday said he believes that Ukraine is halfway through the brutal war against Russia that has raged for 10-months, but warned the toughest fight lays ahead.
“Russia continues to set maximalist goals in the war with Ukraine,” Oleksii Danilov said in a post to Twitter, pointing to Moscow’s goals to eliminate the Ukrainian government and the “destruction of Ukrain[e] as a nation.”
“Time for maximum concentration,” he added. “We are halfway to victory. But the most difficult part is ahead – to finally expel the aggressor from our land and punish him for his crimes.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin grabbed headlines Christmas Day after he suggested Russia was open to negotiating with Ukraine to end the war.
However, hopes of a diplomatic solution were quickly squashed after Moscow maintained a hard line approach and said the war would only end if Ukraine conceded the nearly 20% of its land that Russia has illegally occupied.
Progression on the frontlines has largely stalled in recent weeks as winter has set in, though intense fighting continues around Bakhmut. Western defense officials assess Russia is reinforcing its positions in areas in Luhansk and Kherson.
While Moscow stands to gain little strategically in successfully taking the town of Bakhmut, located in the Donetsk region, it has begun to implement defensive measures in logistically vital areas in neighboring Luhansk – which shares a border with Russia.
The U.K. defense ministry on Wednesday assessed that the area of Kreminna in Luhansk has likely been reinforced by Russian troops as they look to hold on to the sector that borders Donetsk, which has become “relatively vulnerable” as Ukrainian troops push the line eastward.
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“Russia has constructed extensive new defenses in the area and will likely prioritize holding the line here,” the ministry said. “The area is logistically important for Russia’s Donbas front, and it is also a significant town in Luhansk Oblast.”
The ministry also assessed that the “liberation” of this area has served as a top pretext for the Kremlin’s war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyyheld a meeting with his top security officials Tuesday, when they assessed the situation in Bakhmut, Kreminna and Donetsk and said that steps taken by Kyiv in the next year will be “crucial.”
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Zelenskyy said everything from air defenses, rearming its troops on the front lines, repairing equipment and strategies to survive the brutal winter months were discussed.
The Ukrainian president did not go into detail but said he would share Kyiv’s plans on ending the war and restoring the nation in the near future.
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