West ‘alarmed’ by Ukrainian counteroffensive – FT
Ukraine’s Western backers are growing “alarmed” at the slow progress of its much-hyped counteroffensive against Russian forces, the Financial Times reported on Saturday. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has sought to allay those concerns, insisting that his country’s fortunes on the battlefield are about to change.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, Zelensky attempted to explain the problems with the counteroffensive – which Moscow says has failed to gain any ground – by pointing out that Ukraine initially wanted to launch its push in the spring, but ultimately decided against it due to a lack of ammunition and trained troops. The delay allowed Russia to build formidable defenses and lay down minefields, which have slowed down progress, he said.
He added that Ukraine was “approaching a moment when relevant actions can gain pace because we are already going through some mine locations and we are demining these areas.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the same conference, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan described Kiev’s offensive operations as “hard going,” adding that it had lost a “significant” number of troops. However, he noted that it was still too early to assess the counteroffensive’s results, given that Ukraine had yet to commit a “substantial amount of combat power” to the fight.
According to the Financial Times, while Western officials have publicly tried to put a positive spin on Ukraine’s military efforts, many were less optimistic in private conversations.
The paper quoted Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of Virginia and former diplomat, who warned that Ukraine was “moving towards what could be a winter of discontent.” He expressed the view that Kiev would experience devastating economic consequences from the conflict, while its Western allies are already bearing significant costs to keep the cash-strapped Ukrainian government afloat.
Also on Friday, President Vladimir Putin told the Russian Security Council that Western nations had to be disappointed with the counteroffensive’s results, and that “the colossal amounts of resources that were pumped into the Kiev regime” had not helped to break through Russian defenses. He also said that Ukraine had lost “tens of thousands of troops” as a result of its “suicidal attacks.”