Ukraine were forced to go “on the defensive” on Sunday to fend off a round of ferocious attacks as Vladimir Putin bragged about Kiev’s failed counter-offensive.
He said Russian soldiers had “heroically” halted Ukraine’s counteroffensive, sucking up its reserves and capturing key locations.
“All attempts by the enemy to break through our defenses were unsuccessful during the entire offensive,” Putin said.
Ukrainian commanders admitted that their counteroffensive had made slow progress, but still estimated that they had recaptured about 65 square miles of ground in two months.
Estonian military intelligence also said Russian army morale was on the verge of a crash.
In his interview with Russian state television, however, Putin ignored these estimated gains.
“Our troops are performing heroically,” he said. “In some areas they even go on the offensive, taking the most advantageous positions in high-rise buildings, etc.”
Analysts said that since a rebellion by his Wagnerian mercenaries in June, Putin has tried to project an aura of control but despite the bluster, his paranoia has grown and he depends on a small retinue of loyal advisers for unchallenging briefings. not his vision of war.
“Putin’s system continues to operate on wishful thinking in terms of reports reaching Putin’s offices,” said Alex Kokcharev, Russia analyst at S&P Market Intelligence.
The fierce fighting was also highlighted by Hanna Malyar, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister. She said Ukrainian forces around the city of Kupyansk in the northern sector were on the defensive against Russian forces.
“Fierce battles are taking place and the sides’ positions are changing drastically several times a day,” she said. “There is a daily advance on the southern flank around Bakhmut.
Fighting was also reported in occupied Crimea, where Russian forces said seven aerial drones and two underwater drones attacked the port of Sevastopol, the main base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
In Belarus, hundreds of Wagner rebel mercenaries have now arrived as part of a peace deal that ended their mutiny. Polish intelligence services said they were watching them.
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