The New York Times reported on Friday that US officials “fear” Ukraine has become “casualty averse” as Ukrainian commanders have not been pushing as hard against Russia’s defenses as the US would like due to a high cost in Ukrainian lives.
The report reads: “American officials say they fear that Ukraine has become casualty averse, one reason it has been cautious about pressing ahead with the counteroffensive. Almost any big push against dug-in Russian defenders protected by minefields would result in huge numbers of losses.”
In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports exposing the lack of concern on the US and NATO side for Ukrainian lives. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that US and British war games ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive anticipated high casualties but “envisioned Kyiv accepting the casualties as the cost of piercing through Russia’s main defensive line.”
While the US is pressing Ukraine to push harder, Ukrainian officials say they’re not properly armed to do so. “We simply don’t have the resources to do the frontal attacks that the West is imploring us to do,” a source within the Ukrainian general staff told The Economist.
When Ukraine first launched its counteroffensive in June, Ukrainian forces did attempt a big push to break through Russian lines, but the result was disastrous. According to the Times, Ukraine lost 20% of all weaponry it deployed in the first two weeks of its counteroffensive.
The exact human cost of the counteroffensive is not clear, as Ukraine has not been releasing casualty figures. The Times report said that the US estimates almost 500,000 people have been killed or wounded on both sides, but the number is not confirmed.
US officials claim Russia has taken more losses than Ukraine, but the conflict has been an artillery war, and Russia has much more firepower. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny has said that in some battles, Russia fired 10 times as much artillery as Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Western backers appear to have lost hope that the counteroffensive will succeed. The Post report on Thursday said that US intelligence determined the assault would fail to meet its core objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea.
Leading up to the counteroffensive, the Discord leaks and other media reports showed that the US did not believe Ukraine could regain significant territory. But the Biden administration still pushed for the assault and rejected the idea of a ceasefire.