Ukraine's army has broken through the first line of Russian defense in 'bloody, long, and slow' counteroffensive, US Gen. Milley says

  • Ukraine's counteroffensive has breached Russian first defensive line, Gen. Mark Milley said.

  • Ukraine is breaking through complex defenses and making sustained progress, the top general said.

  • Milley said that the advance is "bloody, long and slow" but that this is not unusual in war.

Ukraine's counteroffensive has crossed the first line of Russian defense despite progress being "bloody, long, and slow," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said.

"Specifically on the axis of advance that they're attacking on right now, they've attacked through the first main defensive belt," Milley told Al-Mamlaka on Friday.

"This defensive line, which the Russians spent many months preparing, it's got minefields, it's got dragon's teeth, it's got tank ditches. It's a very, very complex set of defensive preparations that the Ukrainians are fighting through," he said.

While the speed of the counteroffensive is "slower than the planners had thought," Milley said this is not uncommon in war when lives are at stake.

Ukraine is making steady progress of 400-500 meters or sometimes up to 1,000 meters a day, Milley said, and has liberated a considerable portion of Russian-occupied Ukraine.

He said while it's too early to tell whether the counteroffensive has succeeded or failed, "clearly it's had partial success."

While kicking out 200,000 or 300,000 Russian troops will be difficult, said the top US general, Ukraine still has a "significant amount of combat power remaining."

"The bastards are rapidly advancing, covered by artillery strikes"

Ukraine artillery M777 howitzer
A Ukraine soldier covers his ears as an M777 howitzer is fired on the frontline in Zaporizhzhya on July 16, 2023.Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

There have been concerns about the pace of Ukraine's two-month-long counteroffensive, but recent assessments have suggested that there is now sustained progress.

Ukraine appears to be gradually gaining ground in the south, particularly in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to Ukraine's military and gloomy Russian military bloggers, as well as assessments from the UK Department of Defense and think tank the Institute for the Study of War.

One Russian blogger writing about the upturn in Ukraine's fighting fortunes said: "The bastards are rapidly advancing, covered by artillery strikes."

In its latest assessment, the Washington DC-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said, per CNN, Ukrainian forces "advanced closer to the Russian second line of defense in the Robotyne area … further widening their breach of Russian defensive lines in the area."

The ISW said, "Russia's lack of operational reserves will force the Russian command to conduct additional redeployments as Ukrainian counteroffensive operations continue to degrade defending Russian forces in several sectors of the front."

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