US Fears Ukraine Won't Meet Main Goal of Counteroffensive

Forces are slowly making progress, but 'gateway to Crimea' could be out of reach
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2023 9:42 AM CDT
US Fears Ukraine Won't Meet Main Goal of Counteroffensive
Ukrainian soldiers offload spent shells from an attack helicopter in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023.   (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

After more than two months of fighting, Ukraine has failed to make a major breakthrough in its counteroffensive and American intelligence officials now believe it won't meet its main objective, the Washington Post reports, citing sources in the intelligence community. The Post's sources say US officials have predicted that the Ukrainian push won't reach the Russian-occupied southeastern city of Melitopol, meaning they won't be able to cut Russia's land bridge to Crimea. The officials believe that Ukrainian forces, now more than 50 miles away from the city considered the "gateway to Crimea," won't be able to get through defensive lines a few miles away from the city.

While the fact that early assessments were overoptimistic may cause some finger-pointing in Washington, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells the Post that the counteroffensive is unfolding as he had predicted. It's "long, bloody and slow, and it's a very, very difficult fight," he says. Nico Lange, a Ukraine expert at the Munich Security Conference, tells the Economist that over the last two weeks, things have "been gradually tipping in Ukraine's favor," with forces slowly making progress and longer-range munitions taking out Russian command centers. "The Russians are in pretty rough shape," Milley says. "They've suffered a huge amount of casualties. Their morale is not great."

The biggest obstacle for Ukrainian forces has been what the Economist calls "some of the most heavily mined areas in the history of warfare," with up to five mines per square meter in some areas. Ukraine is short on mine-clearing equipment and soldiers clearing mines have been taking heavy casualties. Analysts say, however, that if Ukraine can get through the first Russian defensive line, the second and third lines may turn out to be brittle. The defense ministers of the Netherlands and Denmark said Friday that the US has given its approval to deliver long-awaited F-16s to Ukraine, the AP reports, though they won't be delivered in time to be used in this year's offensive. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.