Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia will fail, predicts US intel

Ukrainian military has failed to breach Russia’s three-tier defence strategy

| Updated: 20 August, 2023 1:05 pm IST
US intelligence predicts that Ukraine's attempt to launch a counter-offensive against Russia is likely to be unsuccessful.

NEW DELHI: The US intelligence community believes that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is expected to fail in reaching the crucial southeastern city of Melitopol. This assessment, if proven accurate, could mean that Kyiv will not achieve its primary goal of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea through this high-stake push.

Intelligence officials told The Washington Post that the assessment is grounded in Russia’s adeptness at defending territories using an array of minefields and trenches. This conclusion is likely to trigger discussions and inquiries both in Kyiv, Washington and Western capitals on why the counteroffensive fell short of its intended objectives despite massive Western military support. Ukraine’s forces advancing from the town of Robotyne, over 50 miles away, will likely be halted several miles outside Melitopol, as per sources in the US, Western, and Ukrainian government.

Melitopol holds immense significance in Ukraine’s counteroffensive strategy as it serves as the gateway to Crimea. Situated at the crossroads of pivotal highways and a railroad line, the city enables Russia to move its military assets between the peninsula and other occupied regions in southern Ukraine. In the initial days of June, Ukraine launched the spring offensive with the hope of emulating its success from the previous year’s push through the Kharkiv region.

However, in the initial week of clashes, Ukraine suffered huge casualties while attempting to breach Russia’s well-prepared defenses, despite the deployment of newly acquired Western equipment, including US Bradley Fighting Vehicles, German Leopard 2 tanks, and specialized mine-clearing vehicles. Joint military exercises conducted by the U.S., British, and Ukrainian forces anticipated such setbacks, the report said. Yet, these drills envisioned Kyiv accepting these losses as the price of penetrating Russia’s primary defensive line.

Reports indicate that Ukraine chose a tactical shift, opting for smaller units to advance across various sectors of the front, in an effort to minimize casualties on the battlefield. Casualties are still high. However, Ukraine made territorial gains across different pockets.

In recent times, Kyiv has committed additional reserves to the frontlines, including Stryker and Challenger units. However, these efforts have not yet resulted in a breakthrough of Russia’s primary defensive line. Analysts believe the path to Melitopol is full of challenges. Even recapturing nearby cities such as Tokmak will prove arduous because of Russia’s formidable three-tier defensive structure in the region, coupled with fortified cities, making the endeavor a multi-faceted challenge for Ukraine.

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