US, Ukraine cannot meet in middle on counteroffensive strategy: WSJ
A Wall Street Journal report highlights the contentious discord between US and Ukrainian officials over the strategy to reverse a failing counteroffensive against Russia.
A recent report by the Wall Street Journal shows that US and Ukrainian officials have been embroiled in a heated dispute over the best strategy each party wants to take to reverse the trend of the failing counteroffensive.
The US-Ukrainian discord became evident in one bilateral meeting when General Valery Zaluzhny, the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, challenged the American understanding of the conflict. Zaluznhy was emphasizing the large-scale scope of the war which he felt the Americans were downgrading.
"You don't understand the nature of this conflict. This is not counterinsurgency. This is Kursk [referring to the WWII battle between the USSR and Nazi Germany]," Zaluzhny said, according to a US official present in the meeting cited by WSJ.
US Warnings to Kiev
American military authorities have been consistently adamant in their directives to Ukrainian forces: urging a concentrated effort to amass forces and breach Russian defenses, aiming to advance all the way to the Sea of Azov.
However, recent adjustments made by Kiev seem to have only marginally bridged the gap in strategy, leaving both parties grappling with the critical question of how to regain momentum against Russia before winter.
Central to the American stance is the belief that the substantial military aid provided to Ukraine, totaling over $43 billion in weaponry over time, has supplied the necessary arsenal for a successful offensive.
However, American officials caution that such a massive influx of resources cannot be replicated at a similar scale in 2024.
"We built up this mountain of steel for the counteroffensive. We can't do that again," cautioned a former US official, underscoring the resource limitations.
Within the US government, differing viewpoints are apparent, but a consensus of "serious frustration" with Ukraine's strategic approach seems to have emerged.
Notably, President Volodymyr Zelensky's emphasis on the town of Bakhmut has drawn scrutiny. While some Ukrainian military officers viewed it as instrumental in boosting morale and establishing a buffer zone, Washington viewed it as a swamp that drained resources and dissipated efforts.
Following a warning from US officials regarding the dispersion of their efforts, the Ukrainian forces adapted their approach, transitioning to a defensive stance in the eastern sector of Zaporozhye. This tactical shift has allowed the Ukrainian military to preserve their strength for a forthcoming major offensive in a different location while also economizing on their use of artillery resources.
However, US officials remain steadfast in their opinion, asserting that the Ukrainian forces are still thinly spread, making it challenging to mount a potent concentrated advance toward the southern front.
Furthermore, US officials assert that Ukraine's preference for small-unit attacks along narrow fronts is hampering the pace of the offensive. Such tactics inadvertently provided the Russians with more opportunities to respond, including deploying mines via artillery strikes and rocket-propelled grenade-equipped units.