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18 Jul, 2023 16:45

US pressuring Ukraine for ‘decisive breakthrough’ – WaPo

Washington fears Kiev’s counteroffensive may not be able to deliver as powerful a blow as previously expected, the outlet claims
US pressuring Ukraine for ‘decisive breakthrough’ – WaPo

US officials are reportedly concerned that Ukraine is not making enough progress in its much-lauded counteroffensive, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday citing anonymous sources.

According to the outlet, Washington is urging Kiev to commit to a decisive breakthrough as Ukrainian commanders have yet to employ the large-scale offensive tactics they were taught by Western instructors.

An unnamed US official explained to the Washington Post that the West had trained Ukrainian forces in integrated offensive maneuvers, provided mine-clearing equipment, and stressed that it was “paramount” that Kiev’s troops quickly apply those capabilities to breach Russia’s defenses.

Western officials have reportedly criticized Ukraine’s military for embracing an attrition-based approach aimed at firing artillery and missiles at command, transport and logistics sites at the rear of Russian positions instead of using Western-style “combined arms” operations that involve large-scale maneuvers featuring tanks, armored vehicles, infantry, artillery, and air power, the outlet said.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War have pointed out that Ukrainian commanders have chosen to embrace more low-profile advances involving groups of 15 to 50 soldiers in order to preserve manpower. The Washington Post also noted that Kiev has so far only fielded “four of a dozen trained brigades in the current campaign.”

Kiev’s attempts to breach Russian defenses have so far been met with “overwhelming artillery, anti tank missiles, loitering munitions and helicopter fire” which have caused significant losses. Russia’s extensive use of drones has also presented a challenge that “not even American forces – for all their combat experience in recent decades – have faced on this scale,” the Post said.

Experts have said that while advances on foot would likely reduce the attrition sustained by the Ukrainian army, such tactics would be much slower and be much less likely to provide an opportunity for a rapid breakthrough.

Ukrainian officials, in turn, have rebuked demands from their Western counterparts to speed up the operation and have instead stressed the need to avoid unnecessary losses and complained about the lack of air support. 

Kiev has repeatedly pleaded with its Western backers to provide its forces with US-designed F-16 fighter jets, arguing that they would play a key role in countering Russian air power. 

Western officials, however, have reportedly insisted that the jets would not be a “game changer,” while Russia has responded by saying  the aircraft would be destroyed like any other foreign military equipment in Ukraine.