Everything You Need To Know About Ukraine’s Unfolding Counteroffensive
In the happiest news we’ve had since Russia invaded Ukraine, it was announced over the weekend that Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces had officially kicked off.
Ukrainian troops have reportedly recaptured wide swaths of territory from Russian forces since the “lightning-fast counteroffensive” begun. On Monday, Ukraine’s President Zelensky confirmed 6,000 square kilometres of territory had been retaken in both the east and the south of the country.
Vice President of the Ukrainian Council of New South Wales, Andrew Mencinsky told Junkee that the news has brought reassurance and joy to the Ukrainian community in Australia.
“For six months, pretty much every Ukrainian has woken up and just checked their news going what’s happened. Is my family safe? Has anybody been killed? What have the Russians done?
It’s just been relentlessly negative. It weighs on people’s minds. It hurts. And to suddenly wake up and see that the long awaited counteroffensive has started and not just started, but is taking great effect… all of us are walking around with this spring in our steps. Seeing the Ukrainian flag go up over those liberated villages is honestly lifting our hearts,” Andrew said.
Andrew has heard from people in Australia who have spoken to their families in places like Kyiv which are under constant threat. He says the mood there is one of caution, but that there is “quiet confidence that this was a significant turning point” and that this is hopefully “the beginning of the end”.
— Brady Africk (@bradyafr) September 12, 2022
Andrew pointed out that the fact that weapons from the West are now coming in, and Ukrainians are using them effectively, gives people hope that Ukraine could win this war.
Even Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the supply of weapons from the West is paying off, and that “the more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved”.
“We all saw the stories of heroism of battles in Kyiv that were fought with molotov cocktails and old Soviet rifles. Now Ukraine through their courage was able to still win that battle of Kyiv, Russia was forced back. However, to make significant claims you need modern weapons. And lots of them,” Andrew said.
While it took a while for those weapons to make their way from Australia, America and Europe, they have arrived in Ukraine, and Andrew pointed out how effectively Ukrainians are using those weapons.
“The Australian Bushmasters are absolutely invaluable. I’m sure you’ve seen it already of the Ukrainian soldiers thanking Australia on the Bushmaster,” he said.
Ukraine’s advances have happened more quickly than expected. But just how far these smaller forces can go, especially before winter sets in, is a real worry.
“There is still fear for people in Donetsk over in the far east. These people for six months have been living in basements often without electricity, without water…And so there’s still a desire to liberate those areas so that these people can return to some semblance of a normal life before winter comes.
A Ukrainian winter is a vicious, vicious thing. It’s something that we really can’t comprehend in Australia, how cold a winter is when it drops to minus 20 degrees. Unless you have effective electricity [and] have a big defeat, you will die. And so there is a fear that they need to get in there and liberate all of Eastern Ukraine from Russia.”