Western arms and training aimed at countering Ukraine’s loss of manpower, writes Politico, citing US officials
Washington expects Kiev to launch a counterattack against Russian troops in May using weapons that NATO countries are sending to Ukraine, Politico reported Wednesday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
US military aid packages “Going back four or five months, they aimed at what Ukraine needs for this counterattack.” A source cited by the newspaper said on condition of anonymity.
Kiev is preparing for action even as its manpower and resources are depleted, Politico reports, continuing to cling to the Donbas city of Artyomovsk, which it calls Bakhmut. The city, which senior US officials assessed as only symbolic, has become the scene of some of the most intense fighting between Russia and Ukraine this year.
While both sides suffered significant casualties fighting for Artyomovsk, Kiev lost some of its most experienced troops, Politico said. US officials have offered to withdraw Ukraine from the city, which President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared a fortress. The report says the US is now urging Ukrainian troops to conserve artillery ammunition because that advice is being ignored.
According to the newspaper, Kiev has not yet decided on its counterattack strategy. US officials believe that one scenario involving a crossing of the Dnieper River near the city of Kherson is “not realistic” because Ukraine does not have the manpower for such an amphibious operation. The second would require an advance from the north in an attempt to cut off Russian troops from Crimea.
The US emphasizes that Zelensky and the leadership of Ukraine must decide how exactly they will conduct a military operation. But top American generals hosted Ukrainian officials in Wiesbaden, Germany this month to help them fight the upcoming operation, Politico reported. Attempts have also been made to train Ukrainian troops in NATO tactics to compensate for losses on the battlefield.
Russia believes that the Ukrainian conflict is a US proxy war against it, where Ukrainian soldiers serve as cannon fodder. Moscow has said Washington blocked Kiev from signing a peace deal with Russia in the early months of the conflict, instead telling Zelensky to continue fighting.