A report in The Washington Post on Tuesday indicated that US officials are piling the pressure on Ukraine to make a breakthrough against Russian forces, following weeks of bleak headlines.
"Ukraine is making limited advances in its counteroffensive against Russian forces but has yet to employ the kind of larger-scale operations that American officials believe could enable a breakthrough, officials and analysts say, deepening questions among some of Ukraine’s chief backers about whether Kyiv can move fast enough to match a finite supply of munitions and arms," WaPo wrote.
The unnamed American official further emphasized that it's "paramount" that Ukrainian troops move quickly to establish momentum and break through Russian front lines.
"Applying all those capabilities in a way that enables them to breach those obstacles, but do it quickly, is paramount," the official said, while also acknowledging the "very tough" situation.
There also appears to disagreement over divergent approaches when it comes to military strategy, between NATO leadership and Kiev. According to more from the report:
Western officials and analysts say Ukraine’s military has so far embraced an attrition-based approach aimed largely at creating vulnerabilities in Russian lines by firing artillery and missiles at command, transport and logistics sites at the rear of the Russian position, instead of conducting what Western military officials call “combined arms” operations that involve coordinated maneuvers by large groups of tanks, armored vehicles, infantry, engineers, artillery and, sometimes, air power.
But Zelensky and his top officials have of late defended their tactics as necessary to preserve the safety and lives of troops. Ukrainian leaders have rejected what they call the Russian 'meatgrinder' approach to throwing whole units into frontline fighting. This as Ukrainian police have gotten more brutal in grabbing young men off the streets to throw them into military service.
"We cannot use meat-grinder tactics as the Russians do," Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov said in fresh statements. "For us, the most precious thing is the lives and health of our soldiers. That is why our task is to achieve success at the front while protecting lives."
But in a separate report this week, The Wall Street Journal has documented that some Ukrainian units are changing up tactics, taking a more aggressive and daring approach, advancing on foot toward Russian positions in the south:
Now, the task is even more daunting. After the destruction of the Kakhovka dam flooded the Dnipro River at the start of June, Russia moved some units that had been guarding the river’s eastern bank to bolster forces to the south of Orikhiv. They quickly dug in, expanding the lines of defense and reinforcing the edges of towns and roads.
Kharchenko and his men are training for a more gradual advance over the flat land of the south, where neat villages are dotted among open fields of sunflowers and wheat. They are using U.S.-made Bangalore torpedoes, metal poles with explosive charges, which they hope will help them clear mines and booby traps from lines of trees along the edges of fields so that they can advance and dig in.
"One of his men questioned why they would seek to advance on foot given that the West provided armor for protection," the battlefield report emphasized. "Kharchenko said they don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the Russians in the early days of the invasion, when Ukraine chewed up column after column of Russian armored vehicles."
The Ukraine counteroffensive was oversold. https://t.co/qIOStUEiVF— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) July 18, 2023
Meanwhile, the aforementioned WaPo reporting had cited a D.C.-based think tank to say the Ukrainian counteroffensive has fallen woefully short thus far, having liberated about 96 square miles since its start over a month ago.
Pentagon leaders have meanwhile predicted that the counteroffensive will be "long and bloody" - and lately acknowledged it recently had to be "paused" - while Zelensky admitted "slower than desired" progress.