Ukraine Counter-Offensive Going ‘Slower Than Desired’, Admits Zelensky

President Zelensky accuses some in Western nations of having unrealistic expectations about how quickly Ukraine would be able to rout the Russian occupation, but nevertheless conceded that even by his own perspective, the counter-offensive was going “slower than desired”.

The long-anticipated counter-offensive of Ukrainian forces trained and equipped by NATO allies has been underway for around three weeks, but so far victories have been restricted to handfuls of villages retaken. Comparing daily intelligence digest maps published by the Ministry of Defence show occupied territories in southeast Ukraine before the counteroffensive, at its commencement, and today basically unchanged.

Speaking to the sense of disappointment that some might feel — not least the Western nations sponsoring Kyiv by pouring billions of dollars of aid into Ukraine’s military to push back Russia — President Volodymyr Zelensky told UK state broadcaster the BBC that progress has been “slower than desired” but that he would not be forced to try and push harder.

He told the broadcaster: “Whatever some might want, including attempts to pressure us, with all due respect, we will advance on the battlefield the way we deem best.”

Zelensky attributed this expectation of rapid victory among some in the West, apparently, to an understanding of war gleaned from movies. He said: “Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It’s not”.

If some do think of the war in Ukraine as being like a film, perhaps they are not wholly to blame. The war has been expressed, at times, in terms of cinema by Western authorities, perhaps in a condescending attempt to drum up popular support for the costs involved in underwriting Kyiv at a level leaders belive the public thinks at.

As reported earlier this year, a NATO post on Twitter quoted a Ukrainian frontline soldier comparing Russia’s war in Ukraine to Harry PotterStar Wars, and the Marvel franchise. He said: “We are Harry Potter and William Wallace, the Na’vi and Han Solo. We’re escaping from Shawshank and blowing up the Death Star. We are fighting with the Harkonnens and challenging Thanos.”

Other Ukrainian soldiers have made such claims, with one reported in February comparing fighting Russian Wagern mercenaries as like being in a “zombie movie”.

Zelensky’s comments trying to dispel the Hollywood-version perception of war follow other similar remarks by Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in May while he was advancing the concept of a ‘Jet Coalition’ to equip Ukraine with advanced warplanes. He said in Washington D.C.: “I’m not going to speculate about exactly what nature that would be, particularly ahead of what is likely to be a counteroffensive this spring. The one thing I would say of course is that this isn’t a film. In films, it’s really, really easy.”

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