Cracks Emerge Between Washington and Kiev. “Counteroffensive” On Hold: “Indefinitely”?
Ukraine is running out of possibilities for a counteroffensive, according to the Washington Post. This report comes as it was recently revealed that cracks are beginning to emerge between Washington and Kiev over the latter’s handling of the war. These cracks will only deepen as we slowly creep towards next year’s US presidential election, where Biden’s unwavering and uncritical support for Ukraine is making him lose support – and at a fast pace.
The Washington Post writes that Ukraine appears to be running out of options in a counteroffensive that officials initially saw as Kiev’s most crucial operation. Although Ukrainian and Western officials call for patience, the newspaper stressed that “the window of time for Ukraine to conduct offensive is limited” because of the “inhospitable weather” in autumn and winter.
“Without more advanced weapons slated to bolster the front line or fully committing forces still being held in reserve, it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to secure a breakthrough in the counteroffensive, according to analysts,” said the newspaper.
The article also warned that
“the inability to demonstrate decisive success on the battlefield is stoking fears that the conflict is becoming a stalemate and international support could erode.”
According to the newspaper, Western and Ukrainian officials, answering questions about the progress of the counteroffensive, call for patience. They describe the fighting as slower than expected but emphasise that Ukraine is progressing. However, away from the public eye, US officials are expressing their disappointment in Ukraine’s handling of its counteroffensive and doubt Kiev will be able to achieve any significant gains by the end of the year.
The Financial Times claimed that Washington had urged Kiev to push hard on the Zaporozhye region instead of spreading its forces thinly along a lengthy frontline. The British outlet says that rifts between the two countries are beginning to grow. This signals that US President Joe Biden feels pressure for his bungled Ukraine policy.
According to the report, Washington and Kiev planned to launch the counteroffensive in the spring and breach Russian defences to reach the Sea of Azov during the summer. In addition, the Ukrainian military was supposed to employ NATO’s combined arms-manoeuvre tactics, as taught by their Western trainers. However, the Ukrainian military reverted to older Soviet-era tactics due to endless setbacks, which displeased Washington. The outlet reported that more US officials are privately preparing for a “war of attrition that will last well into next year.”
At the same time, US officials reportedly “encouraged Ukraine to be less risk-averse and fully commit its forces to the main axis of the counteroffensive in the south” so that Moscow’s land bridge to Crimea could be severed.
A source told the Financial Times that US officials are privately preparing for a war of attrition in Ukraine, which could continue as late as 2024, while they publicly reiterate their support for offensive attempts by Ukrainian troops. It is not understood why the US believes that a war of attrition that hurts Russia can occur since it is Ukraine being demilitarised.
Ukraine launched its much-touted offensive in early June after multiple postponements. Citing its needs, Kiev pressured its Western partners to increase military and financial aid. According to Moscow, as of August 4, the losses of the Ukrainian Army since the start of the counteroffensive were about 43,000 troops and 4,900 units of military equipment, while more than 150,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed or wounded since the beginning of the special military operation. This unmitigated disaster also has a significant effect on the US, as Biden’s Ukraine policy, among other reasons, has seen his popularity plummet.
According to a CNN survey released at the beginning of August, 55% of citizens are against the US continuing to send funds to Ukraine, including 38% of Democratic voters, the party that champions the head of the federal executive. The data reflects a growing chorus speaking against Biden’s reckless Ukraine policy.
It is worth remembering that the US has already sent $113 billion of aid to Ukraine since February 2022, when the operation launched by Moscow began, of which $70 billion have been allocated to security. This huge vast sum for no gain is proving disastrous for Biden as Ukraine is effectively a financial blackhole and a source of criticism against the current administration.
The Biden government, Kiev’s main ally, has sent it all kinds of military weapons, humanitarian aid, and intelligence and training contributions for Ukrainian soldiers. This is in addition to leading political efforts worldwide, rejecting peace negotiations and imposing sanctions against Russian citizens and companies. Yet, all these efforts have not been enough to deter the special military operation, thus deepening the emerging cracks between Washington and Kiev.
Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.