June 9, 2023




© Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Getty Images
Members of Ukrainian Armed Forces during shooting training with heavy weapons close to the frontline in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 20, 2023. Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Getty Images

  • Ukraine is almost ready to launch a long-awaited spring counteroffensive, its defense minister said.
  • “We are to a high percentage ready,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Friday.
  • Reznikov said Western-supplied weapons would serve as an “iron fist” against Russian forces.

Ukraine’s forces are nearly ready to launch a counteroffensive against the Russian invaders with weapons from the West, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Friday.

“As soon as there is God’s will, the weather and a decision by commanders, we will do it,” Reznikov said during an online briefing, per Reuters. “We are to a high percentage ready.”

Reznikov said that Western-supplied arms would serve as an “iron fist” in this effort.

The day prior, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that alliance members and their partners had delivered over 98% of the combat vehicles pledged to Kyiv. Stoltenberg said the aid provided to Ukraine included over 1,550 armored vehicles, 230 tanks, and other military hardware, as well as “vast amounts of ammunition.”

“This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory,” Stoltenberg said.

US Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top commander of US forces in Europe and NATO’s top general, told congressional lawmakers during a House Armed Services committee hearing on Wednesday he is “very confident” that Ukraine has what it needs for a successful counteroffensive. “We’ll continue a pipeline to sustain their operations as well,” he said. The M1 Abrams tanks promised by the US are still to come.

Though Cavoli expressed confidence, recently leaked top secret Pentagon documents that became a major point of controversy in Washington and abroad suggested that the US is not especially optimistic that Ukraine can actually make major gains in a counteroffensive. 

While Ukraine’s long-awaited spring counteroffensive is widely expected to start soon, some military analysts contend that it has already begun in small ways, pointing to reported Ukrainian advances across the Dnipro River in the Kherson region. 

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian people continue to face the deadly consequences of the Russian onslaught, which targets not just the Ukrainian armed forces but also civilians. 

Reznikov’s comments on Friday came as Russia launched fresh missile attacks across Ukraine — including in the capital city, Kyiv — that killed at least 25, BBC News reported. Several children were reportedly among those killed in strikes on residential areas.  

In the wake of these fatal attacks on Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that “Russian terror” could only be defeated “with weapons for Ukraine, the toughest sanctions against the terrorist state, and fair sentences for the killers.”