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EXCLUSIVE: Winning the war in Ukraine comes down to guns and opportunity, a senior official told Fox News Digital following Kyiv’s significant gains in Kharkiv this month.
“We need to keep the pressure on them,” Yuriy Sak, adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, told Fox News Digital. “If we give them time to recover, if we give them time to rebuild their capacity, they will be more likely to fight back.
“We need to keep the momentum going and we need to keep going,” he added, noting that the momentum must also continue in the international arms path if Ukraine is to succeed.
Ukrainian forces have recaptured almost the entire northern Kharkiv region, liberating more than 400 towns and cities and forcing Russian troops to withdraw.
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The advances in northern Ukraine were part of a long-awaited counteroffensive: first alluded to in mid-May — that also included an offensive drive in the southern region of Ukraine.
But even Kyiv was surprised by his success in Kharkiv, where he managed to take Russian forces by surprise and force them to withdraw rapidly, in some cases across Russia’s own borders.
“This was a mission that was kept secret for a long time for good reason,” Sak said. “The result of this counteroffensive actually exceeded even our own expectations.”
The adviser said that it was not only the amount of territory that exceeded Kyiv’s imagination, but also the success rate of the mission.
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Sak claimed that for every Ukrainian soldier killed in the counteroffensive, “9 to 10” Russian soldiers were killed.
Since then, reports have emerged suggesting that there was a breakdown in command and control in Russia’s ranks when it withdrew from Kharkiv, leading its soldiers to abandon not only military equipment but also their own troops.
Sak said Ukrainian defense officials had also received reports that in an attempt to withdraw faster, Russian troops left soldiers killed in action and sometimes shot at their own wounded, though he said these reports had yet to be confirmed.
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“The Ukrainian army has had tremendous success,” he said. “They know what they are fighting for. They want to win this war.”
But Western officials have said it is too early to say whether Ukraine’s ability to reclaim some 3,300 square miles is a turning point or whether Russia has another operational stratagem under his worn sleeve.
“We are not fully aware of what they are capable of doing in this state of desperation, which they are definitely in right now,” the adviser said. “We have to be prepared for everything. Once again, this brings us back to the issue of hurry and speed.
“They are learning from their own mistakes,” he continued. “From a purely logical point of view, it is possible to assume that the next stages will be accompanied by a more sophisticated response.”
Sak said Ukrainian defense officials rely heavily on intelligence to determine their offensive strategy and would not guess what Russia might do next.
“Our plan is simple: keep fighting until we win this war,” he added.
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Sak noted that as Ukrainian forces gained in Kharkiv, Russia increasingly relied on attacking civilian targets and using “missile terror” in areas such as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Ukraine continues to call for increased air defense, such as anti-rocket systems, fourth-generation aircraft, and longer-range missile systems. But the White House has not yet agreed to these important items.
“We can only be as successful as the number of weapons we receive,” he said. “We understand that this war is far from over.”