Days 579-583: Ukraine has retaken more than half of territory seized by Russia since February 2022

This week, Russia launched more missile and drone strikes at Ukraine. It pounded Odesa with Shahed drones, and Kalibr and Onyx missiles. Ukraine’s air defenses destroyed all 19 attack drones and 11 of 14 missiles. Ukraine’s Air Force highlighted the need to bolster air defenses in the south. In a separate episode, a Russian drone strike hit a ferry border crossing between Ukraine and Romania. This is not the first time that Russia strikes targets near the NATO border. In the meantime, Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction enters an “extremely dynamic phase”, the Institute for the Study of War said. According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Ukrainian troops are also advancing in the Donetsk direction. This weeks’ good news is that Ukraine hopes to get through the winter with own gas for first time ever. On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made an unannounced visit to Kyiv. It was his second visit to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Ukrainians have taken back more than 50 per cent of territory that Russia took from them starting in February of 2022

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, speaking at The Atlantic Festival in Washington. Ukraine’s counteroffensive along the south and the east has been “tough going”, but the Ukrainians are making real progress, he said.

“The fundamental difference-maker is the fact that Ukrainians are fighting for their own land, their own freedom, their own future.  The Russians are not.  And I think, at the end of the day, that is what tips the balance,” Blinken said. 

Exactly where the war settles, exactly where “lines wind up being drawn”, that’s going to be up to the Ukrainians, he added. “They have to make important decisions. And it’s a democracy, and those decisions will be reflected in Ukraine’s democracy.”

Commenting on the possibility of a diplomatic settlement to the war, Blinken said, quoting the U.S. President: “These are fundamentally decisions for Ukrainians to make. Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine – that remains very much the north star of what we’re doing.”