US officials tell the New York Times that the Ukrainian counter offensive is unlikely to achieve its goals as Russia continues to hit missile depots and depleted uranium stocks
Officials in Washington have suggested that Ukraine’s military forces won’t be able to cut Russia’s land bridge to Crimea as part of their counteroffensive or achieve other key goals, the New York Times has reported.
“Some American officials have said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive appears likely to fall short of its strategic goals,”the paper reported in an article on Friday.
Kiev’s forces are struggling to achieve the aim of reaching the Sea of Azov in Russia’s Zaporozhye Region, because the minefields set up by Moscow’s forces, they say, have proven to be “a potent defense,” the Times added.
According to US officials, conducting offensive operations would also soon become even more difficult for Ukraine “as the ground becomes soft and muddy” in the region.
The NYT also said that some in Washington have warned that “within a few weeks, the Ukrainian army will need time to rebuild their stockpile of equipment and to rest forces exhausted by the summer fighting.”
In a meeting with US senators the Ukrainian leader pegged his nation’s continued fight against Russia to sustained US military assistance according to US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“There was a single sentence that summed it all up, and I am quoting him verbatim. Mr. Zelensky said: ‘If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war,’” the lawmaker told journalists after meeting Zelensky on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Since last Sunday, Russian forces carried out 12 group attacks against various Ukrainian targets, the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The targets included Ukrainian aircraft and armored vehicles repair facilities, oil refineries, depots of ammunition and foreign-made arms, training centers for Ukrainian saboteurs, and accommodation occupied by foreign mercenaries, the statement read.
According to the ministry, high-precision, long-range ground- and air-based missiles and drones were deployed during the strikes.
“As a result of the attacks, significant damage was delivered to the logistics system of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, operating in the Kherson and Zaporozhye directions,” the statement read.
“Part of the stocks of cruise missiles and depleted uranium shells” provided to Kiev by its Western backers were destroyed, it said. Foreign-made multiple rocket launchers and air-defense systems were also hit, the ministry added.
Ukraine received Storm Shadow/SCALP-Eg long-range, air-launched cruise missiles from the UK and France earlier this year. The munitions have been used by Kiev to attack Russian targets, including those in Crimea.
According to Sky News, Storm Shadows were deployed in the Ukrainian strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the city of Sevastopol on Friday. Russia’s Defense Ministry said five incoming missiles had been brought down by air defenses, but the resulting debris damaged the building and caused a blaze. One soldier was reported missing after the attack.
Britain has been supplying Ukraine with depleted-uranium shells since March. The controversial munitions are intended to be used by the Challenger 2 tanks that London donated to Kiev. The US announced that its Abrams M1 tanks, which President Joe Biden said would begin arriving in Ukraine “next week,” would also be armed with depleted-uranium shells.
Ukrainian servicemen ride atop an armoured personnel carrier vehicle. © AFP / Anatolii Stepanov
The delivery of depleted uranium shells by the West to Kiev is “is very bad news,” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov stressed a few weeks ago. The use of such munitions during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 led to a“galloping” rise in the number of people suffering from cancer and other diseases, he said, adding that the same should now be expected in Ukraine.
Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Ministry already reported a successful strike on a Ukrainian warehouse hosting depleted uranium shells.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive was launched in early June, although Kiev has so far only reported the capture of a handful of small villages some distance away from the main Russian defense lines. President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Ukraine has lost more than 71,000 troops and over 540 tanks since the beginning of summer, while failing to achieve any significant results on the battlefield.
On Friday, President Vladimir Zelensky told journalists in Washington that Kiev “will do everything not to stop during difficult days in autumn with poor weather and in winter.”
Zelensky claimed that Ukraine has a “very, very comprehensive plan” to “de-occupy” Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine) and two other cities, which he refused to name, in the coming months.
Ukraine suffered huge losses trying to defend Artyomovsk and the strategic city in Donetsk People’s Republic nonetheless fell under Russian control in May, after months of fighting.
The NYT pointed out that US intelligence and military had warned the Zelensky government against spending its manpower and resources in Artyomovsk, suggesting that it would be better focused on operations in Zaporozhye Region. “Some American officials say the fight in [Artyomovsk] has become something of an obsession for Mr Zelensky and his military leaders,” the paper said.