Espreso. Global

Ukraine's Zaluzhnyi proposed bold counteroffensive plan in 2022, but US feared failure

9 January, 2024 Tuesday

In 2022, Ukraine's Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, proposed a bold plan for a counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region that could have changed the course of the war, but the US opposed it

Business Insider reported this on January 9, citing a new book by The Wall Street Journal correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov, ‘Our Enemies Will Vanish.’

According to the book, Zaluzhnyi's “bold, and in some observations risky,” plan envisioned a breakthrough in the Zaporizhzhia direction in 2022 and was supposed to cut the so-called land corridor to isolate Russian troops in occupied Crimea.

When discussing plans for the 2022 counteroffensive with Western partners, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi supported the advance to the Sea of Azov through Zaporizhzhia region. At that time, the Russian troops hadn't yet built large minefields and fortifications there, which made a possible breakthrough easier, Trofimov writes.

The book says that such a move would have been a difficult task because the breakthrough had to be both deep and wide enough to prevent the Russians from counterattacking and attacking the flanks of the offensive forces. But if the plan had worked, Ukraine could have “deprived Moscow of its biggest prize in the war," the journalist said.

Ukraine didn't ask for much

To implement the plan, Zaluzhnyi estimates that only 90 additional howitzers and enough artillery ammunition were needed. According to the article, it is difficult to assess whether these weapons would have been enough, but there is a possibility that with sufficient combat forces, Ukraine could have achieved a success similar to the results of the Kharkiv counteroffensive in September 2022.

The planning was conducted at a time when Ukraine “hadn’t yet demonstrated any offensive prowess,” and the United States was wary of the idea, fearing that an offensive would open up vulnerable areas along the front line.

“From the US perspective, Trofimov writes, "failure was likely, and its consequences potentially catastrophic." Such a risky move could result in a strategic loss that could see Russia take the remainder of Zaporizhzhia and, later, Dnipro. Rather than support the objective Ukraine wanted, the US pushed Ukraine to focus on a different target for its southern counteroffensive: Kherson. It was a safer option, and the stakes were lower. The city was an important early Russian war win and one Ukraine would decide to pursue instead of Zaporizhzhia.”

According to the journalist's interlocutors among Zaluzhnyi's aides, he insisted that Ukraine should attack where it needed to, not where it could, but since the United States controlled most of the military aid to Ukraine, there were few options left, and Kherson was chosen as the target.

The journalist claims that in 2022, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine wanted to launch a counteroffensive with high risks and high rewards in case of success, but this never happened. Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction a year later than Zaluzhnyi planned, and this time Russia was more prepared, Trofimov writes. Large Russian fortifications were one of the reasons why Ukraine's counteroffensive in 2023 did not achieve its goals.

In the book, Trofimov also notes that the inability of Ukraine's Western partners to take a bold step and provide the Defense Forces with powerful weapons without worrying about the potential cost has been seriously criticized.

Hesitancy of Ukraine's Western partners to provide powerful weapons

As the war in Ukraine is set to enter its third year, experts continue to criticize the West's approach to it.

"I agree with the overarching critiques that throughout this war Washington has been too conservative when it comes to enabling the Ukrainians to be successful on the battlefield," George Barros, a conflict expert at the Institute for the Study of War, told Business Insider.

"That inopportune timing in Washington has foreclosed some windows of opportunity that Ukrainian forces could have exploited had Western aid been there on time to poise Ukrainian forces to exploit them," he added.

Barros underscored many examples of this, such as the US M1 Abrams tanks only arriving in Ukraine in autumn 2023, long-range ATACMS missiles in late 2023, and F-16 fighter jets not coming yet, "when they were needed in 2022."

Read also:
  • News
2024, Thursday
29 February
How many military aircraft are left in Russia: aviation expert tells
Russian forces launch morning attack on Kherson region, resulting in casualties
Ukrainian troops have minimal ammunition stocks, which only allows them to deter Russian army. Column by Serhiy Zgurets
Ukrainian forces destroy 1,150 Russian soldiers, 23 tanks, 44 armored vehicles per day
Ukrainian Armed Forces strike Russian troop concentration in Olenivka
Turkey and China are likely to create negotiating platforms for war in Ukraine — ISW
Ukrainian Air Force destroys Russian Su-34 aircraft in the East
2024, Wednesday
28 February
Victorious news of 735th day of war: Ukrainian army destroys 6 Russian dugouts on Dnipro's left bank, Netherlands order 9 DITA howitzers for Ukraine
Russian army tries to break through Ukrainian defense 25 times in Novopavlivka sector
One machine can fire about 1,000 shells per day: Ukrainian artilleryman on fighting at front
February 2024 is first month when number of Russian troops in Ukraine decreases
France adapts MiG-29, Su-24M to AASM Hammer, but doesn't give Ukraine Mirage 2000D yet
Europe will hold 'security umbrella' instead of United States
Netherlands orders latest DITA howitzers for Ukraine: when will AFU get them?
Daily Mail publishes video of Ukrainian drone allegedly filming UFO in war zone
Budanov threatens peaceful Crimeans: Russia spreads new fake
Russia bombs train station in Kharkiv region, killing man and 6-year-old child
Ukraine opens 19 criminal cases over Russia's executions of 45 Ukrainian POWs
Ukraine receives $760mln from Japan and Norway: what funds will be used for
Poland and Ukraine may 'temporarily' close border for trade - PM Tusk
Transnistria asks Russia for help due to Moldova's 'economic blockade'. Chisinau, Kyiv, Moscow react
Russia seeks control over railroad: Ukrainian colonel on Russia's army plans
Trump delays Ukraine aid, aims to cast himself as "savior". Vitaly Portnikov's column
Russia tests S-500 air defense system that allegedly shoots down "hypersonics" — military expert Zgurets
Russian army drops bombs on center of Kupyansk, causing casualties
Ukraine-Poland relations, Trump's electorate and Putin's interview with Carlson. Espreso's conversation with political scientist Mahda
Kremlin has no opportunities to destabilize situation in Moldova - diplomat
February 21-28 live war map: Avdiivka occupation consequences and struggle for air supremacy
Ukraine and Albania signed Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation
40 US biolabs operate in Ukraine: another Russian fake spread online
Don't expect NATO legions in Ukraine
Ukraine identifies Russian servicemen killed man during occupation of Kharkiv region
Ukrainian military anticipates Russian advance towards Horlivka
Ukraine will not have initiative at front for months — UK armed forces chief
Creating missile coalition and new Russian offensive possibility. Serhiy Zgurets's column
Forced voting at gunpoint: Nova Kakhovka Mayor condemns Russian pseudo-elections in occupied Ukrainian territories
Russia conducts nuclear weapons drills, prepares for potential conflict with China - FT
Lithuania to check 18 thousand Belarusians who arrived in country by 2022
Russian troops have fewer possibilities for assault operations in Krynky – Operational Command South
What is Macron wrong about?: Ukraine's ambassador on statement about sending Western troops to war
More news