RT reviews Ukrainian leader’s account of Kiev’s gains in the conflict and compares it to Russian statements and open-source data
Kiev’s forces haven’t lost a single village to Russia and have actually secured victory in the Black Sea, destroyed the Wagner group and continued to move forward, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed during a joint press conference with US counterpart Joe Biden.
Zelensky and Biden met in the Oval Office on Tuesday as the Ukrainian leader came to Washington in an attempt to persuade US lawmakers to greenlight more military aid for Kiev. This was after a bill intended to provide the country with $60 billion in assistance was blocked in the US Senate last week, as Republicans demanded tougher immigration control on the US southern border in exchange for approving Ukraine aid.
Zelensky’s charm offensive included an account of Kiev’s “successes” in the fight against Russia, though he stressed that these accomplishments were “not easy.” RT has compared his claims to statements by the Russian military and officials, and to data available in open sources.
Zelensky: “Our forces are advancing.”
In late November, the president himself announced that the Ukrainian military would switch from attacking to building fortifications, acknowledging that Kiev’s much-hyped counteroffensive, which began in early June and aimed to cut Russia’s land bridge to Crimea, had ended without success. According to Russian Defense Ministry estimates, Ukraine has lost over 125,000 troops and 16,000 pieces of heavy equipment in failed attempts to advance over the past six months.
Earlier this week, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Colonel General Aleksandr Syrsky, said that the Russian military “doesn’t stop conducting offensive operations along the entire front.” The situation for the Ukrainian defenders “remains difficult,” he acknowledged.
Zelensky: “We’ve gained victory on the sea. We’ve destroyed Russian ships. We drew the remnants of their fleets to Russian territorial waters.”ADVERTISEMENT
Ukraine did attempt dozens of attacks on the facilities and vessels of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea, with the use of naval and aerial drones as well as Western-supplied cruise missiles. However, most of these were successfully repelled, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.
The worst damage occurred in September’s missile strike on the port of Sevastopol, when three out of ten Ukrainian missiles made it through. Local authorities reported 24 wounded in that attack, while the defense ministry confirmed that two ships in the port’s repair docks were damaged.
Zelensky: “Our guys destroyed 20,000 Wagner mercenaries… The nucleus of this terrorist organization doesn’t exist anymore.”
Then Wagner Group’s chief, the late Evgeny Prigozhin said in May that the private military company had lost about 20,000 men during its fight for the strategic Donbass town of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) in Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). However, he also said at least 50,000 Ukrainians had died in fighting for the strategic city.
The group ceased to exist after Prigozhin and some of its members launched an armed mutiny in June, taking control of a Russian military headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and sending an armed convoy towards Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that, in line with the deal that allowed for settlement of the crisis, the Wagner troops involved avoided prosecution and had a choice of signing contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry, of retiring, or of moving to Belarus.
Zelensky: “Russia was not able to seize any part of our territory, any village or any town.”
The Ukrainian leader made a similar claim during his appearance on Fox News, but in that instance clarified that he was only talking about 2023.
Russian forces focused this year mainly on repelling Ukraine’s counteroffensive. However, in January, Wagner troops took over the town of Soledar in DPR and several other villages in the area as part of its advance on Artyomovsk. The battle for Artyomovsk became the largest in the conflict and ended with Russian victory in May. It was confirmed by both Wagner itself and the defense ministry in Moscow, and acknowledged by Western media. But Zelensky himself never conceded publicly that the city was lost. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, several villages have also been captured after its forces switched to offensive actions in recent weeks.
Zelensky: “We have shown [that] no Russian missiles can outdo the powerful American Patriot system.”
In May, the Russian Defense Ministry said that a precision strike by a hypersonic Kinzhal missile had destroyed a US-supplied Patriot air defense system in Kiev. Ukraine denied the claim but an unnamed American official later told CNN that Washington had been assessing damage to the hardware to determine whether the battery needs to be replaced or if it could be repaired on site by Ukrainian forces.
December 13, 2023 at 10:25PM