Thu, 30 Mar 2023

Western weapons and training aimed at countering Ukraine's manpower losses, Politico said, citing US officials

Washington expects Kiev to launch a counterattack against Russian troops in May, using the weapons that NATO countries have been sending to Ukraine, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed US officials.

US military aid packages "going back four or five months have been geared toward what Ukraine needs for this counteroffensive," one source cited by the outlet said on condition of anonymity.

Kiev is preparing the operation even as its manpower and resources are being drained, Politico reports, by its continued clinging to the Donbass city of Artyomovsk, which it calls Bakhmut. The city, which senior US officials assessed has only symbolic significance, became the scene of some of the most intensive fighting between Russia and Ukraine this year.

While both sides reportedly suffered significant casualties fighting for Artyomovsk, Kiev lost some of its most experienced troops, Politico said. US officials have suggested that Ukraine should pull out of the city, which President Vladimir Zelensky declared a fortress. With the advice unheeded, America is now urging Ukrainian troops to conserve artillery munitions, the report explained.

According to the outlet, Kiev is yet to settle on a strategy for its counteroffensive. One scenario involving a push across the Dnieper River near the city of Kherson is "not realistic," US officials believe, since Ukraine does not have the manpower for an amphibious operation of that kind. The second one would require advancing from the north in an attempt to cut off Russian troops from Crimea.

The US has been stressing that it was up to Zelensky and the Ukrainian leadership to decide how exactly they would conduct a military operation. But senior American generals hosted Ukrainian officials in Wiesbaden, Germany this month to help them with wargaming the upcoming operation, Politico's report notes. There has also been an effort to train Ukrainian troops in NATO tactics to replenish battlefield losses.

Russia believes that the Ukrainian conflict is a US proxy war against it, with Ukrainian soldiers serving as cannon fodder. Moscow said Washington prevented Kiev from signing a peace agreement with Russia in the first months of the conflict, telling Zelensky to continue fighting instead.


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