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White House: Ukrainian counteroffensive 'not a stalemate,' still making gains

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 27, 2023 10:53 AM 2 min read
An M777 is fired as Ukrainian artillery division supports soldiers in a counteroffensive on the Zaporizhzhya front line, on July 16, 2023. (Photo by Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukrainian forces are moving forward and the situation on the front is "not a stalemate" said John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson, on July 26.

Kirby's comments came in response to a question at a press briefing about whether the counteroffensive is moving too slowly.

He added that only the Ukrainian military can accurately comment on the operation's current progress. Both military officials and President Zelensky have "acknowledged that they’re not going as far or as fast as they would like," Kirby noted.

Kirby also added that the U.S. will continue to supply "the kinds of tools and capabilities they need to stay on the move."

On July 26, the New York Times reported that Ukrainian officials informed Washington about the start of a new phase of the counteroffensive and its main focus.

Two Pentagon officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Times that the "main thrust" of Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive is currently in the southeast, and that Ukraine will now deploy thousands of Western-trained reinforcements previously held in reserve.

During the same press briefing on July 26, Kirby also confirmed that Ukrainian pilots are going to receive training on F-16 fighter jets in Denmark and Romania, while the U.K. is providing English-language lessons so they can operate the Western-made jets.

"The dates, the locations, the length of the syllabus, all of that is still being worked out," Kirby added.

Politico reported earlier on July 26 that so far no country has committed aircraft to support the training and no final decisions on the plans have been made, despite hopes that it would start this summer.

At the Vilnius NATO summit earlier in July, Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov signed a memorandum with 11 countries outlining the F-16 training terms for Ukrainian pilots.

On July 17, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that U.S. President Joe Biden "has given a green light" to allow European countries to launch the much-anticipated training for Ukrainian pilots.

Kirby said on July 21 that Ukraine will receive F-16 fighter jets before the end of the year.

Ukraine war latest: Ukraine to receive F-16 training, additional air defense as Russia continues missile barrage
Key developments on July 26: * Ukraine downs 36 Russian missiles on July 26 * Ukrainian pilots to receive F-16 training in Denmark, Romania * Black Sea security discussed at the NATO-Ukraine Council meeting * Ukraine continues advancing in Donetsk Oblast * Ukraine receives additional air defen…
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