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As Counteroffensive Falters, US Starts ‘Deliberate, Sustained Leak Campaign’ to Blame Ukraine

© Sputnik / Konstantin Mihalchevskiy / Go to the mediabankA Russian serviceman of a mobile anti-aircraft unit uses binoculars as he is on combat duty for repelling attacks of Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the course of Russia's military operation in Ukraine
A Russian serviceman of a mobile anti-aircraft unit uses binoculars as he is on combat duty for repelling attacks of Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the course of Russia's military operation in Ukraine  - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.08.2023
Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive has failed to break through Russia’s defensive lines, with the Russian military estimating that Kiev has lost over 43,000 troops and 4,900+ pieces of military equipment since June 4. Sputnik reached out to former Pentagon officer David T. Pyne and political scientist Nicolai Petro to discuss what happens next.
As the summer approaches its end, US officials have begun to openly attempt to shift the blame for the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive from the West and NATO onto the Ukrainians.
US officials speaking anonymously told America’s so-called "newspaper of record" this week that the counteroffensive has not succeeded because Ukrainian commanders spread troops out across the 1,000 km frontline with Russia, instead of concentrating forces on “severing” the “land bridge” linking mainland Russia and Crimea through Zaporozhye region.
US strategists reportedly “advised Ukraine” to pump more troops toward the “top priority” target of Melitopol in Zaporozhye’s southwest, and to “punch through” Russian defenses and minefields, even if it cost large numbers of soldiers and equipment.
Instead, Kiev has reportedly spread forces out, keeping a significant reserve near the Donbass city of Artemovsk (Bakhmut), despite US estimations that trying to take the city back from Russia would “lead to large numbers of losses for little strategic gain.”

Senior NATO military officials, including Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Christopher Cavoli, and British Chief of Defense Staff Tony Radakin reportedly held a video call with Ukrainian command to push for a change in focus, with officials briefed on the call saying Ukraine’s top commander had verbally agreed to do so.

Russian servicemen in the special operation zone in Ukraine. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.08.2023
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US officials also confirmed anonymously what the Russian military has been saying publicly: that Ukraine’s forces have been taking staggering losses, and running out of senior commanders and experienced fighters, whose units have had to be “reconstituted a number of times” due to the intensity of the fighting.

Along with erroneous tactics, US officials have also criticized Ukraine for supposedly operating under the “old Soviet Communist doctrine, which seeks to minimize rivalries among factions of the army by providing equal amounts of manpower and equipment across commands,” and thereby “failing” to prioritize key objectives.

Officials did not elaborate on how Ukraine, which hasn’t been part of the Soviet Union since its collapse in 1991, and whose governments have grown successively more anti-communist in recent decades – especially after the 2014 Maintain coup, continues to somehow maintain an “old Soviet Communist doctrine” in warfare. To the contrary, for over eight years after 2014, Ukraine’s military doctrine has been informed and transformed by NATO, which trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops, and provided Kiev with the latest Western views on network-centric warfare.
Nowhere in US officials’ complaints was there any reference to the disadvantage Ukraine’s forces face in artillery and air support (where Russian forces enjoy near total superiority), or the effective role Russian electronic warfare has played in jamming and defeating Ukraine’s Western-provided communications equipment. Despite the $100 billion+ in military aid doled out to Ukraine over the past year-and-a-half (i.e. more than one-and-a-half-times Russia’s annual defense budget), Washington and its allies have not been able to make up for these disadvantages.
Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, centre left, poses with Ukrainian soldiers during a visit at Bovington Camp, a British Army military base where they are training on Challenger 2 tanks, in Dorset, England, February 2023.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.08.2023
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‘Deliberate and Sustained Leak Campaign’

“The Biden administration appears to be engaged in the first deliberate and sustained unauthorized leak campaign since the war began, with multiple big liberal media outlets now saying Ukraine’s counteroffensive is faltering because they are not concentrating all their resources on breaking though on the southern front to the Black Sea. This appears to be an attempt to shift the blame for losing the war from the Biden administration to the Ukrainian government,” former US Army combat arms and HQ staff officer David T. Pyne told Sputnik, commenting on the increasingly glum sentiments expressed by officials in Western reporting related to the counteroffensive.
“I generally agree with their criticism of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, though I don’t believe Ukraine would have been much more successful if they had followed that advice given the strength of Russia’s fortified defensive lines,” Pyne added.
The observer, who accurately predicted back in June that the counteroffensive would sputter, emphasized that for offensive operations to succeed, the advancing side needs at least a three to one manpower advantage over the defender.
“However, Russia’s strategy of luring Ukrainians close to the Russian defensive mainline before using aerial mines in their rear areas and hammering them with artillery has reportedly caused Ukraine to suffer 40,000 soldiers killed in action since the offensive began…According to one article, Ukrainian draftees sent to the front only last about two to three days on average before they are killed or wounded. If you look at a map of the Ukrainians’ territorial gains during the past two and a half months, they are barely visible on a map,” Pyne stressed.
Pyne is convinced that the attempt by US officials to now blame Ukraine’s tactics signals an effort to distract from the folly of launching the summer counteroffensive in the first place.
“Unlike Russia, which has only partially mobilized its military forces and retains vast, largely untapped manpower reserves, Ukraine has fully mobilized its military of nearly a million men but has reportedly suffered over 200,000 troops killed in action since the war began and even more wounded,” Pyne said.
The Ukrainian government is continuing the counteroffensive due to pressure from the US and NATO, the observer added, in part “to show that the massive Western ‘investment’ of military assistance to Ukraine has been money well spent,” even if the truth is that “it has yielded no positive results since the end of Ukraine’s successful counteroffensives in Kherson and Kharkov in October.”
Ukraine Armed Forces' destroyed infantry fighting vehicle near Artemovsk. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.08.2023
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Failed Attempt to ‘Weaken Russia’

At the same time, Pyne said, rather than “weakening” Russia militarily (the key objective outlined by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin last year when discussing US war aims in Ukraine), the conflict has only “served to strengthen Russia both economically and militarily,” with Moscow doubling the size of its armed forces, and mass-producing heavy weapons systems including tanks and missiles. At the same time, Washington’s decision to “unilaterally disarm” itself by sending weapons to Ukraine from the Pentagon’s own armories has “degraded the US military’s ability to fight, let alone win, a future great power war against Communist China.”
Accordingly, the observer stressed, US aid to Kiev must stop, and a ceasefire and armistice must be reached “so we can end the continuing death and destruction in Ukraine.”
Nicolai Petro, international politics professor at the University of Rhode Island, echoed Pyne’s comments on the need for a halt to the conflict, but recalled to Sputnik that unfortunately, “President Zelensky signed a decree” last year “literally preventing himself and his government from negotiating with the current Russian government.”
“So we are in a dead end situation,” Petro said. “I think there’s a coincidence of views on the part of the current Ukrainian political elite and the government in charge and their allies in the United States government and other Western governments. This cohort, which exists in multiple countries [including] the United States and Ukraine sees its in its own interests to promote an indefinite conflict which will somehow ultimately weaken Russia they believe to the point where it will sue for peace. And I think that’s the part that is the least clear for the people pursuing this strategy, is they thought they had an ability or a way to pressure Russia into conceding, but that prospect now eludes them. So it’s not at all clear to anyone really, anyone searching for a way out.”
 A wounded Ukrainian soldier. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.08.2023
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Who is Morally Responsible for Ukraine Crisis

Petro also believes that the current strategy adapted by the US and its allies “raises the issue of what is the moral responsibility of the West in the strategy that it is pursuing, which is to continue to fight regardless of the cost, because the cost differential is so low for the West compared to Ukraine."
"So it does to me raise serious moral dilemmas when we say ‘well, we are fighting for Ukraine’, but the result of this fight ‘for Ukraine’ is quite possibly the end of Ukraine, the destruction of Ukraine. How can that be a fight worth pursuing? It’s the kind of argument we once had with a nuclear exchange. If we ever had to use nuclear weapons, we would have already lost the fight. And that seems to be the issue here as well. Even short of nuclear weapons, the end result of this kind of unconditional support seems to be inevitably the self-destruction of Ukraine, and we are the ones paying for it,” the observer summed up.
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