Senior Ukrainian officials fear their coming counteroffensive will not live up to the expectations of Kyiv’s Western backers, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.
“The expectation from our counteroffensive campaign is overestimated in the world,” said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. “Most people are … waiting for something huge.”
One of the Pentagon documents that appeared online as part of the Discord leaks was a US assessment from February that showed the US did not believe Ukraine could regain significant territory. POLITICO reported on April 24 that current assessments say something similar.
But Western officials are still insisting that Ukraine has what it needs to retake territory from Russia this spring. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Kyiv is capable despite what the Discord leaks revealed.
Reznikov said Kyiv’s Western backers have said they need an example of “a success because we need to show it to our people,” as a Ukrainian failure would not bode well for rallying more military assistance for Kyiv. “But I cannot tell you what the scale of this success would be. Ten kilometers, 30 kilometers, 100 kilometers, 200 kilometers?” said Reznikov.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs and staunch supporter of arming Ukraine, has said future aid hinges on the counteroffensive. “If Ukraine is successful in the eyes of the American people and the world, I think it will be a game-changer for continued support. If they are not, that will also have an impact, in a negative way, though,” McCaul said last week.
Reznikov and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Post that they were still preparing for the counteroffensive. Zelensky said they will be ready to launch the assault “as soon as the weapons that were agreed with our partners are filled.”
Reznikov said the “first assault formation” is more than 90% prepared but some troops are still receiving training in other countries. The looming counteroffensive is expected to be focused on the south as an attempt to sever the land bridge Russia has secured to Crimea.