Criticizing Ukraine’s counteroffensive ‘doesn’t help’ – White House
American officials are hindering the Ukrainian military by criticizing the slow pace of Kiev’s counteroffensive, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Friday. Amid a glut of articles suggesting that Washington is disappointed with the offensive, Kirby claimed that the Ukrainians have “made progress” on the battlefield.
Almost three months have passed since Ukraine launched its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian forces. According to Russian figures, Kiev lost 43,000 men in the first two months of the operation, without managing to penetrate the multiple layers of trenches and fortifications laid by Russia along the entire Kherson-Donetsk frontline.
For several weeks, media reports have suggested that Washington considers the counteroffensive a failure. Recent reports, attributed to anonymous US officials, blame Ukraine for misallocating troops, wasting ammunition, and refusing to follow American military tactics.
“We’ve all seen the criticism by anonymous officials out there, which frankly is not helpful” to Ukraine’s battlefield effort, Kirby told reporters on Friday.
"We have noted over the last 72 hours or so some notable progress by Ukrainian armed forces,” Kirby continued, claiming that Kiev’s troops had “achieved some success against that second line of Russian defenses” in the Zaporozhye sector of the front.
Kirby was likely referring to the village of Rabotino, which has seen intense fighting and reportedly changed hands several times over the last week. Although Ukrainian officials claim to hold the village, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that Russian forces repelled four separate attacks by five Ukrainian brigades at Rabotino over the preceding 24 hours.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba claimed on Friday that "having entrenched on the flanks of Robotyne, we are opening the way to Tokmak and, eventually, Melitopol and the administrative border with Crimea." However, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar admitted on the same day that Ukrainian forces had since been halted by another line of Russian fortifications.
While Kuleba was optimistic on Friday, his statements a day earlier were markedly angrier. “Criticizing the slow pace of the counteroffensive is equal to spitting into the face of the Ukrainian soldier who sacrifices his life every day,” he told journalists on the sidelines of a EU foreign ministers’ meeting in the Spanish city of Toledo.
“I would recommend all critics to shut up, come to Ukraine and try to liberate one square centimeter by themselves,” Kuleba continued, before urging Western powers to supply Kiev with more missiles, armored vehicles, and air defense systems.