Ukraine has three options – Bild
Ukraine is faced with three possible scenarios amid its faltering counteroffensive, each carrying various degrees of risk, Germany’s Bild newspaper has claimed. In his analysis on Saturday, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Paul Ronzheimer warned that should Kiev’s current efforts fail, Russian forces may mount their own offensive and seize further territory.
According to the article, Ukraine can keep trying to breach Russian defenses despite achieving no major breakthroughs so far. Ronzheimer wrote that so far President Vladimir Zelensky’s government remains optimistic and is determined to continue with the campaign. However, if it fails to make any significant gains by the end of the year, Kiev is reportedly planning another counteroffensive in the spring of 2024.
Ronzheimer alleged that officials in Kiev are growing increasingly frustrated at criticism of its counteroffensive tactics coming from the West. Bild quoted one unnamed senior Ukrainian official as insisting that “everything was planned together” with Kiev’s backers.
Any new push is contingent on receiving more Western weapons and ammunition, Bild pointed out. On top of that, Russia will likely use the winter respite to beef up its defenses.
Another avenue open to Kiev, according to the article, is to continue the counteroffensive while simultaneously engaging in peace talks with Russia. However, such a U-turn on Zelensky’s part would be hard to sell to the population, Ronzheimer predicted.
The Bild deputy editor-in-chief emphasized that last October, the Ukrainian head of state signed a decree ruling out negotiations with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and that recent opinion polls show 72% of Ukrainians are against talks with Russia.
In a worst-case scenario for Ukraine as envisaged by Ronzheimer, the counteroffensive stalls, with Russia launching one of its own and potentially seizing parts of Kharkov Region. According to Bild’s analysis, this is, however, not likely as Moscow is supposedly struggling to replenish its own losses.
In early June, the Ukrainian military launched its long-awaited counteroffensive in a bid to reclaim territories in the east and southeast. However, despite massive Western support, Kiev’s forces have not achieved any significant gains. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the operation has already cost Ukraine 43,000 men and nearly 5,000 pieces of military hardware. Top officials in Kiev and some Western capitals have acknowledged that the push has failed to live up to the initial high expectations, and is progressing more slowly than anticipated.