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25 Apr, 2023 12:00

Ukraine risks losing Western support if counteroffensive fails – NYT

Territorial gains by Kiev are “not necessarily likely” despite arms and training from its allies, the newspaper has claimed
Ukraine risks losing Western support if counteroffensive fails – NYT

Ukraine has no guarantees of success with a counteroffensive against Russia, despite receiving Western weapons, training, and intelligence support, the New York Times has reported. An underwhelming outcome would likely prompt Kiev’s backers to press it to negotiate for peace, the newspaper predicted.

Kiev has long touted an upcoming push as the next decisive phase of the conflict with Russia. The NYT claimed on Monday that the offensive could be launched as early as May, although Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal recently assessed that it might not get underway until the summer.

According to classified documents shared as part of the Pentagon leaks, Ukraine is planning to use 12 combat brigades of about 4,000 troops each in its renewed campaign against Russian forces. The US and its allies have helped train nine of those units, with soldiers being taught to use Western-provided equipment and receiving tactical advice at American military facilities in Germany. Ukraine’s backers are also expected to provide it with intelligence for the proposed assault.

“Everything hinges on this counteroffensive,” Alexander Vershbow, a former US ambassador to Russia and senior NATO official, said of the future operation. “Everybody’s hopeful, maybe over-optimistic. But it will determine whether there is going to be a decent outcome for the Ukrainians.”

Kiev has ruled out negotiations with Moscow until it recaptures all the territories that it claims as its own. However, even with all Western help, “big gains are not guaranteed, or even necessarily likely,” the NYT warned. The newspaper cited Ukrainian battlefield losses, heavy expenditure of munitions, and Russian troops digging in and preventing the enemy from using Western-taught warfare as working against Kiev.

After the push is over, “there is little chance that the West can recreate the buildup… for the foreseeable future” the report argued. The US and its allies have largely exhausted their military inventories after flooding Kiev with military aid, causing gaps that are unlikely to be filled until next year, experts assessed.

Meanwhile, Russia is ramping up pressure against Ukraine despite previous setbacks, meaning that “the window to make significant gains… may not remain open indefinitely,” the NYT stated. With larger reserves at its disposal, Moscow could emerge victorious in the conflict, it acknowledged.

Politico previously reported that the White House was bracing itself to mitigate the fallout from a potentially poorly-executed Ukrainian counteroffensive. A temporary truce could give Kiev time for a military buildup before another offensive at a later point, US officials claimed to the outlet.

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