Ukraine: Blinken calls progress in retaliatory strike a failure according to Putin

(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that Ukraine had recaptured half of Russia’s territory in the country as part of its retaliatory offensive, however, adding that Kiev faced a “very uphill battle” to gain more.

In St Petersburg, where he met his Belarusian counterpart and ally Alexander Lukashenko during the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Ukrainian counter-offensive had failed.

According to comments reported by Russian news agencies, Alexander Lukashenko said, “There is no retaliatory strike.” “It existed, but it failed,” the Kremlin chief quipped.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged in late June that progress in the counter-offensive was “slower” than desired.

Kiev retook villages in the south of the country and around the ruined town of Bakhmut in the east, but made no major headway against the Russian defense lines. The Russian military controls more than one-sixth of Ukrainian territory.

US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian invasion was “far from failure” but that it would be long, difficult and bloody.

Antony Blinken said in an interview with CNN, “Ukraine has already taken back about 50% of what was initially seized by Russia as part of its offensive scheduled for February 24, 2022”.

“We are still at the beginning of the counter-offensive. It is difficult,” he said. He said, “It will not be played in the next two weeks. We are still considering it to take several months.”

When asked about the delivery of US F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Antony Blinken said it should happen as per Kiev’s long-standing request. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that no final decision had been made in Washington.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Raphael Sutter in Washington, Mark Trevelyan, Felix Light; French edition Editing by Claude Chendjou, Jean Terzien)

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