In a short interview, released by the Rossiya 1 channel on Sunday, Putin was asked to comment on recent statements by some Ukrainian officials, who acknowledged that their operation was stalling and failing to meet Kiev’s schedule.
“As for the counteroffensive that is allegedly stalling – it has failed completely,” the Russian leader replied.
Moscow is aware that Kiev is “still preparing new active offensive operations. We see that. We know that. And we’re reacting to that appropriately,” he stressed.
“As for what’s happening now along the whole length of the contact line, it’s called active defense and our [Russian] forces are improving their positions almost everywhere in this area,” Putin continued.
“I want to thank the Armed Forces, the military leadership and, first of all, our fighters on the frontline for their courage,” the president added.
On Thursday, Kirill Budanov, the head of the Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper that Kiev’s forces were not only behind schedule in the counteroffensive, but had completely “fallen out of it” after several things did not go as “smoothly” as the Ukrainian authorities had hoped.
When asked to comment on Budanov’s assessment by Ukraine’s Channel 24, Mikhail Podoliak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the counteroffensive was “six to nine months behind schedule.” Podoliak blamed Kiev’s Western backers, who, according to him, were too slow in providing Ukraine with the needed weapons.
Ukraine launched its much-hyped counteroffensive with the aim of cutting Russia’s land bridge to Crimea in the first days of summer. However, Kiev has so far only been able to report the capture of a handful of small villages located some distance from the main Russian defense lines. Putin said last week that Ukraine’s casualties since the start of the operation have amounted to “over 90,000 people,” 557 tanks and 1,900 armored vehicles.