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12 Dec, 2023 09:01

US wants Ukraine to fight Russia on tighter budget – NYT

The Pentagon is advising Kiev on a new strategy after the failed summer counteroffensive, according to the newspaper
US wants Ukraine to fight Russia on tighter budget – NYT

Lackluster results from Kiev’s summer counteroffensive against Russia and problems faced by the White House in appropriating more aid for Ukraine are forcing a rethink of military strategy for the entire conflict, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Washington is pushing for a conservative, defensive approach next year that would involve fighting “on a tighter budget,” the newspaper said, citing sources in the US government.

However, Ukrainian generals and senior officials are reportedly planning a bold push forward, which their American counterparts believe to be based on “unrealistic expectations” about future military assistance. Kiev wants artillery shells in quantities that do not exist in Western stockpiles, skeptics told the Times.

As Washington pushes Kiev into adopting its approach, General Christopher G. Cavoli, the top American commander in Europe, has taken a bigger role in dealing with the Ukrainians, the report said. The Pentagon will also have Lt. Gen. Antonio A. Aguto Jr. visit Kiev frequently to “work more directly with the country’s military leadership to improve the advice the United States is offering.”

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as part of a US-led proxy war against Russia, in which it believes Washington is making all the key calls. The US government claims that it is only providing Kiev with what it needs to win, leaving the decision making to Ukrainian officials.

The US and Ukraine have been blaming each other for the failure of Kiev's six-month-long counteroffensive, in which it sought to capture territories controlled by Russian forces. Kirev has declared a return to pre-2014 borders as the only acceptable outcome of the conflict. The Russian Defense Ministry has estimated Kiev’s losses during the push at more than 125,000 troops and 6,000 heavy weapons.

The NYT said American officials are arguing that Ukraine does not need to retake land, just score “some strategic and symbolic victories” to strengthen its hand before “calls for peace talks to end the war inevitably restart.”

The newspaper did not provide any insight into whether the White House believes that Kiev will ultimately have to accept territorial concessions to Russia. Republican Senator J.D. Vance suggested this was the case during a CNN interview on Sunday. He claimed that “nobody actually believes” Kiev will achieve its stated goal and that Washington should not write “more blank checks” to support that ambition.

Last week, GOP opposition in the US Congress succeeded in blocking a White House request for more than $110 billion in foreign security funding, including for Ukraine.