Espreso. Global

US predicts Kyiv's counteroffensive will not reach Russian-occupied Melitopol

18 August, 2023 Friday
14:32

US intelligence insiders anticipate that Ukraine's counteroffensive won't reach the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol

The Washington Post reported the information.

“The U.S. intelligence community assesses that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will fail to reach the key southeastern city of Melitopol, people familiar with the classified forecast told The Washington Post, a finding that, should it prove correct, would mean Kyiv won’t fulfill its principal objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea in this year’s push,” the article reads.

Situated at the crossroads of significant highways and a railroad, Melitopol serves as a crucial conduit for Russia to move troops and resources from Crimea to other areas under its control in southern Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s forces, which are pushing toward Melitopol from the town of Robotyne more than 50 miles away, will remain several miles outside of the city,” the Washington Post referres to U.S. officials

Ukraine has changed tactics

The article recalls that Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in early June and suffered significant losses against a heavily prepared Russian defense. Joint military exercises conducted by the US, British, and Ukrainian militaries anticipated these losses, but assumed that Kyiv would accept them as the price of breaking through Russia's main defense line.

However, Ukraine decided to stop the losses on the battlefield and switch to the tactic of moving forward with small units in different parts of the front.

The road to Melitopol is extremely challenging, and even recapturing closer towns like Tokmak will be difficult, military analyst Rob Lee tells the Washington Post.

“Russia has three main defensive lines there and then fortified cities after that,” he said. “It’s not just a question about whether Ukraine can breach one or two of them, but can they breach all three and have enough forces available after taking attrition to achieve something more significant like taking Tokmak or something beyond that.”

Whom to blame for the slow offensive?

The pessimistic outlook has already led to blame games in closed-door meetings in Washington. Some Republicans do not support Biden's request for an additional $20.6 billion in aid to Ukraine. At the same time, U.S. officials reject criticism that F-16 fighter jets or longer-range missile systems such as ATACMS could have led to a different outcome.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba acknowledged the slow pace of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and urged critics to "go and join a foreign legion" if they want faster results.

Given the new intelligence assessment, it coincides with a secret February U.S. forecast that indicated that equipment and troop shortages could mean a counteroffensive would be far from achieving Ukraine's goal of severing the land bridge to Crimea by August. 

U.S. officials noted that Washington is still open to the possibility that Kyiv will surprise skeptics and overcome difficulties. 



 
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