Kiev’s Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles “all burned,” one soldier told the newspaper Ukrainian soldiers repair a Leopard 2 tank in Zaporozhye region, Russia, Wednesday, June 21, 2023 © AP Photo / Andrey Andreyenko

The Ukrainian military lost 20% of the equipment it sent to the battlefield during the first two weeks of its counteroffensive, the New York Times reported on Saturday. This high attrition rate was reportedly a key factor in Kiev’s decision to pause the operation.

Beginning in early June, Ukrainian forces launched a series of attacks all along the front line from Kherson to Donetsk. Advancing through minefields and without air support, the Ukrainian military lost 26,000 men and more than 3,000 pieces of military hardware, according to the latest figures from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Ukrainian losses were at their highest during the initial two weeks of the offensive, the New York Times claimed, citing unnamed American and European officials. These officials said that up to 20% of Ukraine’s tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed in this period, including many Western-provided vehicles.

For some units, Western equipment was lost at an even higher rate, the Times continued, citing figures from a pro-Ukrainian organization. Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade – a NATO-trained unit – apparently lost 30% of its 99 Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles in two weeks, while the 33rd Mechanized Brigade lost nearly a third of its 32 German-made Leopard tanks in a single week.

Western tanks burn more fiercely than Soviet ones – Putin Western tanks burn more fiercely than Soviet ones – Putin

“They all burned,” said one Ukrainian soldier who witnessed at least six Western vehicles destroyed in a single Russian artillery barrage. Another Ukrainian fighter told the Times that his unit’s Bradleys run over anti-tank mines on a daily basis. While the troops inside often survive, the vehicles are left immobilized long before they reach Russian lines.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian forces have destroyed a total of 311 Ukrainian tanks since June 4. “At least a third of them, I believe, were Western-made tanks, including Leopards,” Putin told Russia 24 TV on Thursday.

After the first two weeks, Ukrainian commanders decided to pause the counteroffensive, and losses subsequently dropped to 10%, the Times claimed. President Vladimir Zelensky acknowledged the pause this week, but blamed the West for failing to supply him with enough weapons and equipment for a successful operation.

With little territorial gain to show for Kiev’s losses, Western officials have expressed disappointment at the pace of the offensive, according to a steady trickle of media reports since mid-June. Zelensky and some of his top officials still insist that the decisive phase of their counteroffensive has yet to begin.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Western backers are running low on ammunition, particularly 155mm artillery shells. US President Joe Biden admitted this week that “we’re low” on these shells, explaining that the shortage compelled him to send controversial cluster munitions in their stead. The US has also stalled on approving the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, something that Kiev insists will help restart the faltering counteroffensive. (RT)