In a June 21 article, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal's bold declaration of "Ukraine is winning" in the war against Russia has sparked debate and raised questions about the true state of affairs on the battlefield. While there have been some gains, a significant portion of Ukrainian territory remains under Russian control, and the counteroffensive has encountered serious setbacks and challenges.
Shmyhal's claim of victory seems to hinge on the notion that Russia has not achieved its ultimate strategic goals, which he characterizes as "destroying Ukraine." While the Ukrainian state still exists, the cost of resisting Russia has been high, and a true resolution to the conflict may necessitate concessions.
As of now, almost a fifth of Ukrainian territory remains controlled by Russian forces. Ukraine's counteroffensive has struggled to regain control of these areas and has faced failures on multiple fronts. Recent events have forced Ukraine to reassess its tactics and temporarily pause the counteroffensive due to heavy losses in personnel and equipment.
The first two weeks of the six week counteroffensive saw a staggering quarter of Ukraine's weaponry damaged or destroyed. The subsequent loss rate has stabilized at around 10 percent, but it remains a grim reminder of the immense toll the war has taken on the nation's military capabilities. Additionally, Ukraine has been reluctant to disclose precise casualty numbers.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has attributed the pause in the counteroffensive to a lack of essential equipment and munitions. In response to Ukraine's plea for more assistance, the United States has announced a significant aid package totaling $2.3 billion. Of this sum, $1.3 billion is designated for military equipment and munitions, including air defense missile systems, howitzer munitions, attack drones, and landmine clearing equipment.
While the increased aid from the U.S. may give a boost to Ukraine's military efforts, the challenges ahead are multifaceted. Settling the conflict with Russia may involve tough decisions, including ceding large portions of Ukrainian territory and reevaluating the country's ambitions of joining NATO or the European Union.