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Ukrainian forces are advancing "at least 500 meters" every day in the counteroffensive despite the lack of crucial hardware like F-16 fighter jets, the Ukrainian armed forces' commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said in an interview the Washington Post published on June 30.
Zaluzhnyi criticized those who complain of "slow progress," adding the counteroffensive is "not a show." President Volodymyr Zelensky also noted that the advance is "slower than desired" but that the campaign is not a movie.
Zaluzhnyi compared advancing without modern fighter jets to fighting with "bows and arrows." Russian artillery fire sometimes outnumbers Ukraine's by ten times, he added.
The Ukrainian commander pointed to NATO's own doctrine, which calls for air superiority before launching an offensive. In spite of that, Western leaders are slow to supply the jets, Zaluzhnyi complained.
Denmark and the Netherlands said they may provide the coveted aircraft to Ukraine with U.S. consent, and Washington supported the plan to supply Kyiv with F-16s. It is not yet clear when will the Ukrainian Air Force receive them, however.
The general said he shared his concerns with his U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, who is helpful and sympathetic to Ukraine's needs. However, the decision on crucial hardware such as the F-16s does not lie with Milley, Zaluzhnyi noted.
Referring to the Wagner rebellion between June 23-24, Zaluzhnyi said it made no impact on the situation on the battlefield, as the private military company exited the front after the capture of Bakhmut in late May.
Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on June 29 that despite some Wagner presence in southern Ukraine and occupied Luhansk Oblast, the mercenaries will no longer take part in hostilities against Ukraine. According to the Kremlin and Minsk, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and part of the group's fighters are being transferred to Belarus.
Zaluzhnyi emphasized that despite being undersupplied, Ukrainian troops are carrying out their given tasks and advancing at least 500 meters every day, even though the progress is slower than some observers would hope for.
The long-awaited counteroffensive is underway across the front line in the east and south of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have successfully liberated nine settlements in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, though, according to Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, the main attack is yet to come.