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Ukraine’s counteroffensive can run into dead end due to lack of weapons and training – WSJ

Ukraine’s counteroffensive can run into dead end due to lack of weapons and training – WSJ

Ukraine’s counteroffensive risks stalling and descending into a stalemate due to a lack of training and key weapons systems needed to break through entrenched Russian defenses, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

When Ukraine launched its counteroffensive this spring, Western officials knew Kyiv lacked “all the training or weapons – from shells to warplanes – that it needed to dislodge Russian forces,” the WSJ states. But there was hope “Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day.”

Those hopes are fading as “deep and deadly minefields, extensive fortifications and Russian air power have combined to largely block significant advances by Ukrainian troops,” the report says.

Quoting military analyst Franz-Stefan Gady, who recently toured the front lines, the WSJ says Ukraine’s forces lack the ability to concentrate and synchronize operations to break Russian defenses: “Ukraine really needs to be able to scale up and synchronize military operations if it wants to be able to break through Russian defenses.”

Gady said rather than coordinated assaults with artillery barrages, Ukraine is attacking “sequentially, with shelling followed by company-level infantry advances.” This often “telegraphs” attacks to Russia.

The WSJ reports Western doctrine says attacking entrenched enemies requires a 3:1 advantage in forces and combined air-land assaults. But Ukraine lacks “the mass, training and resources to follow those prescriptions.”

Retired US Army Lt. Col. John Nagl emphasized to the WSJ: “It’s impossible to overstate how important air superiority is for fighting a ground fight at a reasonable cost in casualties.” With Russia controlling the skies along much of the front, its aircraft and helicopters are taking a toll on Ukrainian troops.

In May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged Russia has air superiority at the front, meaning “a large number of soldiers will die.”

The WSJ says Ukraine’s lack of progress has convinced many Western observers more training and weapons like tanks and air defenses are urgently needed.

However, the report notes a disconnect between the US and Europe on support for Ukraine. American hesitation to provide more backing contrasts with European views that Ukraine must prevail over Russia. But European militaries lack the resources to fully supply Ukraine.

The WSJ states political calculations in Washington, including concerns about the 2024 election, are likely tempering the Biden administration’s willingness to arm Kyiv. Meanwhile, European leaders won’t significantly increase aid without US commitment.

This “shift in trans-Atlantic political winds” was evident in tensions between Zelenskyy and US officials at the recent NATO summit, according to the report. With the offensive stalled, Ukraine requires a “huge new infusion” of weapons and training for a chance at victory over Russian forces.

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