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2 Feb, 2024 09:55

Zelensky’s top aide admits counteroffensive failed

Ukrainian leaders have a “negative aftertaste” from the botched military strategy, Mikhail Podoliak has said
Zelensky’s top aide admits counteroffensive failed

Ukraine’s much-hyped summer counteroffensive ended in disappointment, Mikhail Podoliak, a senior adviser to President Zelensky, has admitted. He also lamented that Kiev continues to suffer from an ammunition shortage.

Kiev launched a large-scale push to breach Russian lines in early June, after being reinforced by hundreds of Western-supplied tanks and other hardware, but failed to gain any substantial ground. Ukraine suffered colossal losses according to Moscow, with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu estimating them at around 160,000 since the start of the push.

Speaking to Ukrainian 24 TV Channel on Thursday, Podoliak admitted that “there has been a certain negative aftertaste” about what happened in 2023. He noted that both Ukrainian military and political leaders had acknowledged “certain tactical mistakes.” At the same time, he insisted that “this is not a problem,” because Ukraine is fighting a large country with significant resources.

The official also stressed that if Kiev wants to achieve its strategic goal of defeating Russia, it cannot always remain on the defensive. He suggested that those who champion the “strategic defense” approach, do not factor in Moscow’s actions. “I always ask the question: Does this mean that while… Ukraine is accumulating reserves, conducting training, and so on, Russia will just lie on the couch and wait? This is nonsense.”

Podoliak went on to say that the Ukrainian military is facing a shortage of ammunition, including long-range missiles, and expressed hope that the situation will gradually improve. He suggested that the problem could be solved if the West increased its arms supplies and invested in joint arms production.

Last March, the EU made a “historic decision” to supply Ukraine with one million artillery shells over 12 months. However, those ambitious plans have been dashed, as earlier this week the bloc’s top diplomat Joseph Borrell admitted that only a third of that amount had been delivered so far, with the total expected to reach 500,000 by March.

Meanwhile, despite Ukraine’s failure to break through Russian defenses last year, Kiev’s military intelligence chief, Kirill Budanov, predicted that the country would make another attempt this spring.

Last autumn, Ukraine’s top general Valery Zaluzhny assessed that the conflict had reached a “stalemate.” His stance on this and other military issues has reportedly caused a rift with President Zelensky, and rumors abound of the general’s imminent resignation. Commenting on Zaluzhny’s remarks at the time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Ukraine should understand that it has no chance of winning on the battlefield.