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Ukraine regains ground in places from Russian troops, Pentagon says

The Ukrainian army is carrying out counter-offensives which have made it possible, in the south in particular, to regain ground on Russian troops, faced with communication difficulties, assured the Pentagon spokesman on Tuesday.

Ukrainian soldiers “are now, in certain situations, on the offensive”said John Kirby on CNN, saying that they “chasing the Russians and pushing them out of areas where the Russians were in the past”. “We know that they have carried out counter-attacks (…) especially in recent days in Mykolaiv,” key city in southern Ukraine, he added.

“We have seen (these territorial gains) increase in recent days” for the benefit of Ukraine, said John Kirby. “It’s a real proof of their ability to fight according to their plans, adapting and, again, trying to push back the Russian forces”.

The Ukrainian army also launched a counterattack in Izium, a small town southeast of Kharkiv (east), which Russian forces had taken in an attempt to link up with the pro-Russian areas of Lugansk and Donetsk, a said a senior Pentagon official. “What we see today are significant fights by the Ukrainians to try to take it back”told the press this senior official who requested anonymity.

Mr. Kirby explained on CNN that the Russian forces “do not conduct their operations with the coordination one would expect from a modern army”. “Their commanders don’t always talk, don’t always coordinate between air and ground forces”said the US defense spokesman.

“We saw tension between the air and ground forces over how they supported each other, well or with difficulty”and the same goes for the navy, he continues. “They have problems with command and control” troops.

“Very concretely, they find it difficult to talk to each other, and this leads to the use of mobile phones in some cases”, believes this American official. And in addition, “they run out of gas, they run out of food”. “That is why we believe that we have not observed [récemment] real major advance by the Russians, except in the south”where they are closer to their rear base in Crimea, he added. “So yes, they are in trouble”.

The senior official who requested anonymity said the Russian forces even lacked equipment to protect themselves from the cold. “We have collected information showing that some of their soldiers have suffered (from the cold) and are no longer fit to fight due to frostbite”, he noted. For the first time, the combat capacity still available to the Russian army deployed since the fall on the Ukrainian borders has fallen below 90%, according to him.

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