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The current pace of Ukraine's counteroffensive does not indicate a stalemate or inability to retake large territory, the Institute for the Study of War said in its assessment on July 4.
The Ukrainian military's gradual progress in eastern and southern Ukraine reflects a strategy of resource conservation over territorial acquisition, the ISW wrote in its analysis.
The strategic priority is "the maximum destruction" of Russian manpower and equipment, Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on Twitter, adding that "a war of destruction is equal to a war of kilometers."
Ukrainian forces face land mines and other impediments as they advance deeper into Russian-occupied territory. Admiral Rob Bauer, chair of NATO's military committee, told reporters he agreed with the cautious approach and that Ukraine was right to avoid high casualties.
"People should never think that this is an easy walkover," Bauer said.
Nonetheless, Ukraine's gradual advance has yielded territorial gains. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported via Telegram that in the last week, Ukrainian forces liberated nine kilometers in the east and 28 kilometers in the south.
The ISW compared Ukraine's current counteroffensive to its campaign to liberate Kherson Oblast between August and November 2022. In that case, a slow offensive eventually resulted in the successful liberation of Kherson.