US and Ukraine ‘at odds’ over counteroffensive tactics – WSJ
American officials are “frustrated” with Ukraine’s reluctance to accept their advice on how to conduct the counteroffensive against Russian forces, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The newspaper claimed it was still “not too late” for Kiev to follow instructions from Washington, and to utilize the training that tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops have received from NATO nations. The outlet noted, however, that the two sides are still “at odds about how to turn the tables on the Russians” before winter sets in.
According to the WSJ’s sources, the US believes that the amount of Western military aid sent to Ukraine is enough to breach Russian defenses, although the window of opportunity is closing.
“We built up this mountain of steel for the counteroffensive. We can’t do that again,” one former US official explained. “It doesn’t exist.”
The Ukrainian military leadership has attempted to deflect criticism by claiming that the Americans do not understand the kind of warfare that Kiev is engaged in, the WSJ added.
“This is not counterinsurgency. This is Kursk,” General Valery Zaluzhny, Kiev’s top military commander, told his US interlocutors, according to an unnamed American official.
Zaluzhny was referring to a key World War II battle on the eastern front, in which defending Soviet troops stopped Nazi forces before turning the tables on them.
Figures in Washington want Zaluzhny to concentrate Ukrainian forces near the southern city of Tokmak for a push towards the Azov Sea, the article claimed. It added that US officials disapprove of President Vladimir Zelensky’s focus on attempts to retake the city of Artyomovsk in the east, which Kiev calls Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian leader, who has invested symbolic significance in the settlement, reportedly argued that recapturing it would boost troop morale. US officials have long said Artyomovsk has no strategic value, urging a withdrawal before Ukrainian troops were ousted from it in late May. The WSJ said Kiev had made adjustments in recent weeks by taking a defensive posture in the east.
Russia has argued that the US is using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder in a proxy war against Moscow. The Russian military has claimed that Ukrainian troop losses during the first two months of its summer counteroffensive were more than 43,000.