Estonian Ambassador to NATO Juri Luik warned against exaggerated expectations of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, adding that the speed of the campaign should not be imposed against military logic, the Estonian public broadcaster ERR reported on July 24.
“After all, Russians have three large defensive lines, huge minefields, fortified bunkers,” Luik commented.
“We can only imagine how difficult it is for Ukrainian fighters to break through there."
According to the ambassador, it is understandable that the first lines of defense are the strongest, making the initial phase of the attack more difficult and costly.
While Ukraine’s counteroffensive has achieved partial gains since it start in early June, both Western observers and Ukrainian officials noted that the progress has been slower than anticipated.
Russian forces have fortified their positions with dense minefields and other obstacles, slowing down Ukrainian attacks. According to the Washington Post, Kyiv so far received less than 15% of the requested demining equipment from the West.
At least 200,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian land had been mined by Russian forces as of June.
Ukraine’s top commander General Valerii Zaluzhnyi denounced the criticism of the counteroffensive’s pace, stressing that Ukrainian troops advance daily despite lacking crucial hardware like F-16 fighter jets.
The campaign’s tempo and the thinning stocks of conventional artillery rounds in Ukrainian arsenals led to the U.S. greenlighting the provision of cluster munitions, hoping they will give Kyiv’s troops the much-needed boost.