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NYT: US, Ukrainian military leaders work on new frontline strategy for 2024

The US enhances its military advisory role in Ukraine with the deployment of Lt. Gen. Antonio A. Aguto Jr. to Kyiv, aiming to “work more directly with the country’s military leadership.”
Ukrainian military.
Ukrainian military. Credit: Ukraine’s General Staff
NYT: US, Ukrainian military leaders work on new frontline strategy for 2024

US and Ukrainian military officials are collaborating to devise a new strategy for Ukraine’s frontline tactics against Russia’s ongoing invasion, aiming to implement it early next year, The New York Times reports.

This collaboration comes in response to Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive that did not achieve its intended goals, as the Ukrainian troops reportedly advanced only 17 kilometers with Russia’s “mine barriers along particularly important axes have a high density and reach a depth of 15-20 km,” as Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, wrote for the Economist.

The US has allocated over $111 billion to support Ukraine in the past two years, NYT states. However, a new poll by the Pew Research Center shows a growing partisan divide in the US over Ukraine aid. The survey shows that 31% of Americans think the US is providing too much support, with 48% of Republicans agreeing. In contrast, only 16% of Democrats see the aid as excessive.

On 6 December, the US Senate faced a setback in initiating discussions on President Joe Biden’s national security package, with Republicans opposing the bill and demanding immigration limits as a condition for their support, resulting in a close 49-51 vote.

How Ukraine aid became a hostage of the US border crisis

On 11 December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Washington, a critical step in demonstrating unity and discussing future plans. As part of his visit to the United States, Zelensky met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Charles Brown, and executives of US defense companies.

President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine, stating, “We can’t let Putin win. It’s in our overwhelming national interest.” This highlights the US’s commitment to Ukraine’s cause, particularly in light of the Russian military’s resurgence. The US believes Russia now has “more troops, ammunition and missiles” as well as an expanded “fleet of battlefield drones” from Iran, drastically increasing its firepower.

According to the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces seek to regain initiative in harsh conditions before Russia’s 2024 elections with a focus on capturing Avdiivka (Donetsk Oblast) and re-capturing Kupiansk (Kharkiv Oblast), which was liberated by Ukrainian forces during Kharkiv offensive campaign in September 2022.

A key aspect of this collaboration is the increase in direct military advice from the US, with a three-star general dispatched to Kyiv for extensive on-ground collaboration, as reported by NYT. The American strategy leans towards a conservative approach, focusing on holding territory and building resources. The two sides also plan to game out details of a new 2024 strategy through military exercises in Germany next month.

Why Ukraine’s counteroffensive failed: WP analysis in 7 minutes

The New York Times, citing a US official, reports that the US views the stakes as extremely high. The official warns that without a change in strategy, 2024 could mirror 1916 — the bloodiest year of World War I — with battle lines remaining stagnant despite massive casualties.

Disagreements reportedly emerged between US and Ukrainian generals on where to focus mechanized forces trained by the US. While Washington prioritized the southern coastline for its strategic value, Ukraine favored defending the eastern Donbas region, where Russia currently concentrates its assault.

“The goal would be to create enough of a credible threat that Russia might consider engaging in meaningful negotiations at the end of next year or in 2025,” NYT assumes.

Despite these challenges, there are signs of compromise and adaptability. American officials acknowledge Ukraine’s successful strikes in Crimea and are open to new strategic ideas.

Ukrainska Pravda: SBU drones strike Russian military sites in occupied Crimea

The dispatch of US Lt. Gen. Antonio A. Aguto Jr. to Kyiv to “work more directly with the country’s military leadership” represents a move towards closer military cooperation.

In conclusion, as the war enters into what General Zaluzhnyi described as a new “positional” stage, the development of a new strategy and continued support are vital for Ukraine’s prospects. The success of these efforts remains contingent on the alignment of military tactics, political will, and international support.

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