US Officials Criticize Ukraine’s Tactics, Say Troops are Too Spread Out

US and other Western officials have been pinning the blame on Kyiv for the failing counteroffensive

US and Western officials speaking to The New York Times blamed Ukraine’s struggling counteroffensive on Kyiv’s tactics, saying Ukrainian troops are too spread out.

US officials said that Ukraine’s primary goal is to sever Russia’s land bridge to Crimea but that Ukraine has placed its troops and firepower equally along the entire front, in the south and the east.

The report, published on Tuesday, is the latest example of the West trying to pin the blame for Ukraine’s failures solely on Kyiv, even though it was clear that the US and NATO did not believe Ukraine would have much success but pushed for the counteroffensive anyway. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Western officials did not think Ukraine had enough training or equipment for the assault but hoped they would be able to break through.

The Times report said that as a result of Ukraine’s tactics, there are more Ukrainian troops near Bakhmut and other eastern cities than in the south near Melitopol and Zaporizhzhia. The report said the US had advised Ukraine to focus on pushing toward Melitopol.

Military situation in Ukraine on August 22, 2023 (

The report said that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and other top NATO military leaders told Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny in an August 10 meeting that his forces should focus on one area. Two officials said that Zaluzhny agreed with the Western advice.

One US official said that only with a change of tactics and a dramatic move from Ukraine can the tempo of the counteroffensive change. The Washington Post reported last week that US intelligence has determined the counteroffensive will fail to achieve its main objective of capturing Melitopol and severing the land bridge to Crimea.

The US has also been pushing Ukraine to go harder in its counteroffensive despite Russia’s vast minefields and high Ukrainian casualty rate. The Times reported this past Friday that US officials “fear” Ukraine has become “casualty averse.”

Zaluzhny and other Ukrainian officials have hit back at Western criticism of their counteroffensive, pointing out that NATO would never launch such an assault without air superiority. Kyiv insists their Western backers need to be patient, but US officials told the Times that Ukraine only has another month to six weeks before rainy conditions force a pause in the counteroffensive.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.