Reports from the battlefield have become increasingly “sobering,” one US Congressman has told the network Ukrainian servicemen repair a tank on a road in Donetsk region, Russia, June 30, 2023 © AFP / Genya Savilov
Kiev’s Western backers are losing faith in the ability of the Ukrainian military to penetrate Russian defenses and turn the tide of the conflict, US and other Western officials told CNN on Tuesday.
“[The Ukrainians are] still going to see, for the next couple of weeks, if there is a chance of making some progress. But for them to really make progress that would change the balance of this conflict, I think, it’s extremely, highly unlikely,” an unnamed “senior Western diplomat” told the American broadcaster.
Illinois Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat who recently met with US commanders in Europe, described their briefings as “sobering.”
“We’re reminded of the challenges [the Ukrainians] face,” he said, adding that “This is the most difficult time of the war.”
Ukraine launched its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian forces in early June, assaulting multiple points along the frontline from Zaporozhye to Donetsk regions. However, the Russian military had spent several months preparing a dense and multi-layered network of minefields, trenches, and fortifications, which the Ukrainian side has thus far failed to overcome.
Advancing through minefields without air support, Ukraine’s Western-trained and NATO-equipped units have suffered horrendous casualties, losing 43,000 troops and 4,900 pieces of heavy weaponry in just over two months, according to the most recent figures from the Russian Defense Ministry.
“[The] Russians have a number of defensive lines and [Ukrainian forces] haven’t really gone through the first line,” another anonymous Western diplomat told CNN. “Even if they would keep on fighting for the next several weeks, if they haven’t been able to make more breakthroughs throughout these last seven, eight weeks, what is the likelihood that they will suddenly, with more depleted forces, make them?”
Despite the best efforts of Ukraine’s armed forces chief, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, to convince the US that “the initiative is on our side,” officials told CNN that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky could soon be pushed to sue for peace if progress remains stalled.
A senior US military official predicted that Kiev would rely more and more on piecemeal strikes within Russia – like the recent drone attacks on Moscow – to compensate for its shortcomings on the battlefield. The Kremlin has drawn similar conclusions from these attacks, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov declaring last week that Kiev was launching “terrorist strikes” as “acts of desperation” to distract from its failing counteroffensive. (RT)