CNN reported on the 24th (local time) that the United States and Western officials are persuading Ukraine to abandon its military-consuming strategy of defending Bahmut in the east and launch an offensive in the south using new equipment that the West recently agreed to support. .
Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian forces on a 60-kilometer front in the Bakhmut region for nearly six months. Bakhmut is located between rebel-held strongholds in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Bahmut is currently in a state where almost all buildings have collapsed due to shelling.
A senior Western intelligence officer said last week that it was a “horrible war of attrition” in which both sides fired thousands of shells almost every day over 100 to 400 meters of land. .
U.S. and Western officials have been arguing in recent weeks that a new tactic is needed now that a major spring offensive is expected, and that Ukrainian forces should abandon the strategically small Bahmut and focus on offensive operations in the south.
Three senior US officials who visited Ukraine last week shared the same message.
During a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, White House National Security Adviser John Feiner, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Colin Carle met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He said he wanted to help make the transition.
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Officials say the U.S. and other European countries are helping to change operations in Ukraine by promising to send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine in recent weeks, including Britain’s commitment to supply 14 tanks.
However, it is still unclear whether President Zelensky will give up Bakhmut. Zelensky believes that if Bakhmut is held, it will be advantageous to recapture the entire Donbas region, and if Russia wins, strategically important Slovyansk and Kramatorsk will be at risk. Bakhmut also has a great symbolic meaning for Ukraine.
A senior Western official said, “It has become important because Russia values Bahmut.” A U.S. military official also predicted that Ukraine would not give up on Bahmut because of its great strategic message. It also has the effect of exhausting the Russian army in the Battle of Bahmut.
A senior U.S. military official said on the 23rd that Russia has suffered heavy losses in recent months by deploying thousands of “underequipped and untrained” troops to Bahmut and elsewhere.
However, the Ukrainian army also suffers heavy losses and uses thousands of shells a day. The United States sees this type of fighting as unsustainable. The Russian military has an overwhelming stock of men and ammunition, with Wagner’s mercenary group turning thousands of prisoners into cannon fodder, Western intelligence officials say.
U.S. officials expect the Ukrainian military to change its tactics with the recent expansion of armor equipment and training.
Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on the 20th that he was “confident that Ukraine will make significant tactical and operational changes to liberate as much of the occupied Ukraine as possible, based on equipment and training support.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to seize control of the war in the coming weeks, intelligence officials say.
CIA Director Bill Burns visited Ukraine earlier this month to give President Zelensky an American assessment of Putin’s plans. There are also indications that Putin is considering conscripting an additional 200,000. However, Putin has yet to make a final decision because of the backlash, including hundreds of thousands of people fleeing abroad and protests during the open conscription last year.
The reappointment of Russian Army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov as commander in chief of Ukraine earlier this month shows that Putin has a new offensive in mind.
Some Russian military officers were intercepted discussing plans to reoccupy the northeastern Kharkiv region, Western and Ukrainian intelligence officials say.
But US and Western officials and military experts believe it will be difficult for Russia to reoccupy Kharkiv. The Russian army recently revealed that its artillery supply has been limited by a maximum of 75% reduction, and because of this, it is evaluated that it will be difficult to launch a large-scale offensive operation.
Instead, after occupying Bakhmut, Russia is likely to use it as a stepping stone to increase the occupied territories in the Donbas and Zaporizhia regions. The Ukrainian military said on the 21st that Russian forces had begun intensifying their offensive in the area.