What’s the update on Ukraine’s counter-offensive?

Last month, Ukraine launched its counter-offensive against Russian forces in the country.

What’s the update on Ukraine’s counter-offensive?
A Ukrainian serviceman of the First Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine is sen at his position at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine July 23, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova

The backstory: Last February, news broke around the world that Russia had invaded Ukraine. Over the past 17 months, Russian forces have advanced across the country and now control more than a sixth of its territory. But Ukraine has been planning a counter-offensive to take back its occupied lands, and drone strikes against Russia have ramped up in recent weeks.

More recently: Last month, Ukraine launched its counter-offensive against Russian forces in the country. Things kicked off in several regions, especially in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. Also, reports of drone strikes on Russian territory began coming in, although Ukraine denied being involved with those. But Ukraine has taken responsibility for attacking a key bridge connecting occupied Crimea to Russia last week and other strikes in the area since then. Ukraine President Zelenskiy was quoted as saying the progress of the counter-offensive was "slower than desired," but the military wasn’t planning on speeding things up.

On Sunday, Russian President Putin hosted ally and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, and state news outlets reported the leaders as saying Ukraine’s counter-offensive had failed. "There is no counteroffensive," Russian news quoted Lukashenko as saying.

The development: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that, although the counter-offensive would not be an easy task, Ukraine had already recaptured about 50% of the territory that Russia had seized in the beginning of the invasion. Blinken said it would be "a very hard fight" that would play out over several months. He also told reporters he believed Ukraine would be getting some US-made F-16 fighter jets.

Kyiv says it is advancing slowly on purpose to avoid high casualties on fortified defensive lines that have a lot of landmines, and it’s looking mainly now to break down Russia's logistics and command.

Key comments:

"It exists, but it has failed," Russia’s President Putin was quoted by state news agencies as saying, regarding Ukraine’s ongoing counter-offensive.

"It's already taken back about 50% of what was initially seized," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

"Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It's not," Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy told the BBC, about the counter-offensive’s slower-than-desired progress. "What's at stake is people's lives."