Russia’s defense minister claimed on Thursday that the country’s military was able to hold off Ukraine’s counterattack, echoing sentiment among some Russian commentators — though the notion has been met with some pushback, including from President Vladimir Putin.
The Minister of Defense, Sergei K. Shoigu, said to Mr. Putin in a Security Council meeting in the country The Russian army succeeded in thwarting the first wave of the Ukrainian counterattack. Mr. Shoigu also expressed confidence that Moscow’s forces will be able to withstand further attacks even as Western allies deliver more weapons to Ukraine. Analysts say the main thrust of Kiev’s counteroffensive is yet to come.
“For our part, we are also preparing,” Mr. Shoigu said at the meeting, which was broadcast on Russian state television.
As repeated by Nikolai B. Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council, Russia’s recent allegations that its military destroyed dozens of tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment in Ukraine, including at least 13 tanks supplied by the West. Mr. Patrushev’s specific claims cannot be verified, but photos and videos posted by pro-war Russian bloggers, verified by The Times, show that Ukraine lost or abandoned many tanks and armored vehicles supplied by the West in the early days of the early offensive. . This month.
However, Putin appeared to tone down the optimistic assessments during the meeting. The Russian leader said that “the enemy’s offensive potential has not been exhausted, and a number of strategic reserves have not been used.”
“I would urge you to take this into account,” Putin told Mr. Shoigu and other senior Russian officials. “We need to proceed from the real situation.”
These statements echoed those made by Mr. Putin the day before, when he said that Russia would still prevail, emphasizing his clear belief that Russia had the resources to drain and exhaust Ukraine and the West.
Mr. Shoigu said Moscow’s efforts to recruit additional soldiers and volunteers have resulted in more than 160,000 new service members, though he did not specify a timeframe. He said that Russia will form a new reserve army by the end of this month. The Russian army lost thousands of fighters in battles like the one in the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive claimed a few villages but did not result in rapid breakthroughs against heavily fortified Russian lines, a pace that Western and Ukrainian military analysts say is not surprising, especially since Kiev has yet to engage most of its newly trained and equipped forces in battle. .
But Russian officials have sought to project confidence. Mr. Putin, who rarely spoke about the fighting in the early months of the war, has addressed it publicly five times this month, often emphasizing what he says is Ukraine’s failure to achieve its goals.
Following his leadership, Russia’s state-run television channels have become more assertive in recent weeks, repeating the message that the country’s forces can withstand more Ukrainian attacks. Many Russian pro-war activists feared that the counterattack would repeat the Russian withdrawal near the cities of Kharkiv and Kherson last fall.
But opponents also appeared. Allegedly, Evgeny V. Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group that led the Russian effort to capture the eastern city of Bakhmut in May, said Thursday that the situation on the battlefield was much worse for Russia.
Mr. Prigozhin said in a A voice message His press service published it, adding: “They have captured important areas that we have lost.”
He also reiterated his frequent criticism of Russian military officials, say: “What the president gets on his table is a complete lie.”
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