In rare, detailed remarks on the state of how the war is going in neighboring Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Ukraine's counteroffensive is failing, stating that Kiev has at this point lost a total of 25 to 30 percent of the military vehicles which had been supplied by the West, including tanks.
Putin further affirmed that the counteroffensive began on June 4 and has "not been successful in any area" - and claimed that casualties on the Ukrainian side are ten times greater than Russia's.
The comments came the same day the Russian Defense Ministry released video showing damaged and abandoned NATO-supplied armored vehicles, including a German Leopard 2 tank and American Bradley infantry vehicles.
The New York Times seems to somewhat agree with the Kremlin's assessment that no serious gains have been made by Ukrainian forces, with its headline, "Ukraine Claims More Small Advances in Counteroffensive, but No Breakthroughs"...
Ukraine claimed small advances on Monday in its counteroffensive in the southeast of the country, hunting for a place to drive a wedge through Russian defenses, a key to its hopes for recapturing wide swaths of territory lost to the Russian invasion last year.
After a week of fierce combat with infantry, artillery and tanks, across a mostly agricultural landscape, Ukrainian forces, newly armed and trained by Western allies, have retaken seven small villages and settlements, Hannah Malyar, a deputy defense minister, wrote on the messaging platform Telegram, including one that the military said it had captured on Monday.
The deepest advance was about 4 miles, and “the area of territory taken under control is 90 square kilometers,” about 35 square miles, she wrote.
NYT adds a couple of the following admissions:
Progress is measured in yards, or at most a mile or so, the Ukrainian gains have involved tiny farming villages, and there has been no sign so far of a significant break in the Russian occupiers’ dense network of defenses.
Horrific scenes of close-up combat, including trench warfare reminiscent of WWI, continue to emerge:
War up close: Russian units assault an AFU trench.— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) June 13, 2023
-> These trench up close battles terrify me … I hope that stops soon. pic.twitter.com/DfpY3yuBvt
Ukraine has not disclosed losses, but its attacks against Russian trenches, bunkers, minefields and gun emplacements are likely to be taking a heavy toll on its forces, analysts say, and there have been some confirmed losses of both troops and advanced weaponry newly donated by allies.
Thus in this rarest of moments, in seems that Putin and the NY Times agree on something.
Putin additionally commented on the UN-backed grain deal on Tuesday, saying Russia is seriously considering withdrawing from the agreement. He stressed Moscow has been "cheated" regarding its own exports.
"Probably, for the guys who are fighting, it's not clear why we are letting the grain through. I understand," Putin told journalists, while explaining that the deal asymmetrically benefits Ukraine and its ability to keep selling primarily to Europe. "We do it not for Ukraine, but for the friendly countries in Africa and Latin America. Because grain should go first and foremost to the poorest countries in the world."
That's when he confirmed: "We are now thinking about whether to leave the grain deal," also given the persistent Kremlin accusation that Ukraine is using the grain corridor "to launch maritime drones" against Russian naval assets.