Overview

  • Russian air superiority “stopping” counteroffensive 
  • Putin banking on lower support for Kyiv after US elections
  • 'Slower' Western supplies threatening counteroffensive
  • ‘Putin killed Prigozhin’
  • Ukraine ‘ready to hold elections’

Russian air superiority “stopping” counteroffensive 

President Zelensky said on Friday that Russian air superiority was “stopping” Kyiv's counteroffensive, complaining of the slow rate of both Western arms deliveries and sanctions on Russia. 

Ukrainian officials have expressed frustration at criticism that Ukraine's counteroffensive has been too slow. 

“If we are not in the sky and Russia is, they stop us from the sky. They stop our counteroffensive,” Zelensky said, calling for more “powerful and long-range” weapons. 

Kyiv has repeatedly asked for planes to battle Russia's full-scale invasion, but many of its Western allies have been hesitant. 

Ukraine has for weeks complained about the slow process of getting US-made F16s to improve its Soviet-era fleet. 

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“When some partners say: So what about the counteroffensive, when will the next step be? My answer: today, our steps are certainly faster than the new sanctions packages,” said Zelensky.

'Slower' Western supplies threatening counteroffensive

Zelensky also warned that “slower” arms shipments from Western countries were threatening his counteroffensive, calling for more powerful and long-range weapons to push back Russian forces. 

Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in June after stockpiling Western weapons, but has made limited gains as its troops encounter heavily fortified Russian defensive lines. 

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“All processes are becoming more complicated and slower – from sanctions to the provision of weapons,” Zelensky said in comments published on the presidential website. 

“The longer it takes, the more people suffer,” he warned.

 

Putin banking on lower support for Kyiv after US elections

Zelensky said Friday Russia was hoping the upcoming US presidential elections would lower Washington's support for Kyiv. 

“(Russians) are counting on the American elections... although we have mutual support, bipartisan," Zelensky said in a meeting in Kyiv. 

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He nevertheless acknowledged that there were “voices in the Republican Party who say that support for Ukraine should be reduced.” 

“But it is important that the American people support democracy, support Ukraine, support our struggle,” he added.

Also on Friday, President Biden leaned fully into his support for Ukraine with the launch of a new 2024 campaign ad.

Facing a battle in the opinion polls, America’s oldest ever commander-in-chief is using his surprise trip to Kyiv in February to sell himself as a “true leader” ahead of the 2024 election.

 

‘Putin killed Prigozhin’

Ukraine's leader on Friday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind the death of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash last month. 

“He killed Prigozhin, at least we all have this information and not any other,” Zelensky said.

He said the incident showed that the Russian leader was now “politically weak.” 

Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, died with nine other people when a plane flying from Moscow to Saint Petersburg crashed on August 23.

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Ukraine ‘ready to hold elections’

Zelensky said Ukraine was prepared to organize elections even while the war with Russia is still going on. 

“I am ready for the elections. I mean, we are ready if it is necessary,” he said, adding he was in favor of allowing international observers because “for us the main thing is not to hold elections, but for them to be recognized.”

His comments came as Moscow held local elections on Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, condemned by Kyiv and international groups as a sham.

Operations – Robotyne

According to the British Ministry of Defense (MoD): “Elements of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have advanced into the multi-layered main Russian defensive line east of the town of Robotyne.

“Ukrainian dismounted infantry forces are continuing to make gradual tactical advances against Russian positions and attrite Russian forces in the area.

“Ukrainian forces have also maintained pressure on Russian positions to the south of Bakhmut, making gradual gains between Klishchiivka and Adriivka.

“It is highly likely that Russia has redeployed forces from other areas of the frontline to replace degraded units around Robotyne. These redeployments are likely limiting Russia's ability to carry out offensive operations of its own along other areas of the front line.

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“The redeployments are also highly likely an indication of pressure on their defensive lines, particularly around Robotyne.”

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