Ukraine’s military will liberate all territory occupied by Russian forces regardless of how long it takes, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told AFP this week, adding this was the Ukrainian people’s wish.

“Our goal is victory, victory in the form of the liberation of our territories within (Ukraine’s) borders of 1991. And we don’t care how long it takes,” he said during an interview in Kyiv.

“As long as the Ukrainian people share this goal, the Ukrainian government will move hand in hand with its own people.”

Kyiv launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive in June but has acknowledged tough battles as it struggles to break through heavily fortified Russian positions.

But Ukraine is not under pressure from its Western allies, which have provided far-reaching contributions to the military, to make faster gains, Kuleba said.

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“We’re not feeling this,” he told AFP, acknowledging “an increase in the voices of commentators and experts in the public space” discussing the pace of Ukraine’s gains on frontlines in the east and south of the country.

He jokingly encouraged critics of Ukraine’s offensive to “go and join the foreign legion” to aid Ukraine’s efforts.

“It’s easy to say that you want everything to be faster when you are not there.”

He said, however, that Ukraine will still need a steady supply of Western arms and ammunition until its military has routed Russian forces from all occupied Ukrainian territory.

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“The truth is that until we have won, we need more, we need to move forward, because war is a reality, and in this reality, we need to win. There is no other way,” he told AFP.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu this week said Ukraine’s military resources were “almost exhausted”, despite receiving Western arms deliveries.

His forces have been posting gains in the northern Kharkiv region near Russia’s border, but Ukraine announced this week it had recaptured a village from Moscow’s forces along the southern frontline in the industrial Donetsk region.

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