US officials assess that Ukraine will not be able to regain all its territory

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White House officials are losing confidence that Ukraine will be able to regain all the territory it lost to Russia in the last four months of the war, US government officials told CNN even with the heaviest and most sophisticated weaponry your allies plan to send.

Aides to President Joe Biden have begun internally debating how and whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should change his definition of a Ukrainian “victory” — adjusting to the possibility that his country has shrunk irreversibly.

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US officials emphasized the CNN that this more pessimistic assessment does not mean that the US plans to pressure Ukraine to give Russia territory to end the war. There is also hope that Ukrainian forces will be able to regain significant chunks of territory in a likely counter-offensive later this year.

A congressional aide told the CNN that a smaller Ukrainian state is not inevitable. “Whether Ukraine can regain these territories is largely, if not entirely, a function of how much support they get,” he said.

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He recalled that Ukraine has formally asked the US for a minimum of 48 multiple-launch rocket systems, but so far only eight have been promised by the Pentagon.

And not everyone in the government is so worried – some believe that Ukrainian forces could again defy expectations, as they did in the early days of the war, when they repelled a Russian advance on the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan remains engaged with his Ukrainian counterparts and spent hours on the phone last week discussing efforts to recapture territory with Ukraine’s Defense Chief and US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. sources told CNN .

The growing pessimism comes as Biden meets with US allies in Europe, where he tries to convey strength and optimism about the war’s trajectory, while calling on leaders to remain committed to arming and supporting Ukraine amid the war. brutal fight.

“We have to stay together. Putin has been saying from the start that somehow NATO and the G7 would split, but we didn’t and we won’t,” Biden said during the G7 summit in Germany.

The government announced an additional $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine last week, including additional rocket launch systems, artillery ammunition and patrol boats. The US is also expected to announce this week an advanced missile defense system for Ukrainian forces.

Biden indicated in an editorial earlier this month that he is committed to helping Ukraine gain an edge on the battlefield to gain leverage in negotiations with Russia.

However, the mood has changed in recent weeks, as Ukraine has been unable to repel Russian advances in the Donbas and has suffered staggering troop losses, reaching 100 troops a day. Ukrainian forces are also using up equipment and ammunition faster than the West can provide.

A US military official and a source familiar with Western intelligence agreed that Ukraine is unlikely to be able to muster the strength needed to regain all the territory lost to Russia during the fighting — especially this year, as Zelensky said on Monday. Friday (27), which was his goal.

A substantial counteroffensive may be possible with more weapons and training, the sources said, but Russia may also have the opportunity to replenish its force in this period, so there are no guarantees.

“A lot depends on whether Ukraine can regain territory lost since February 23,” said Michael Kofman, a military expert at the Center for Naval Analysis. “Perspective exists, but it is contingent. If Ukraine makes it that far, then it can probably take the rest. If you can’t, you may have to reconsider how best to achieve victory.”

Russian forces gaining ground

Russian forces now control more than half of Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the region’s military administration, said last week. The Ukrainians withdrew from the important city of Severodonetsk after weeks of bloody battle.

The Russian military also captured land around Lysychansk, the last city in the eastern Luhansk region still controlled by Ukraine. Ukrainian military commanders are now dealing with the reality that they may have to withdraw from the area to defend territory further west.

Meanwhile, Russian oil revenues have surged as oil prices have soared, even amid tough sanctions imposed by the West. US officials said on Monday that the US and its allies will try to cap the price of oil to limit Russia’s profit, without providing further details.

Internally, there is a feeling among some in the Biden administration that Zelensky will need to start tempering expectations about what Ukrainian forces can realistically achieve.

The Ukrainian president said last month that he “would consider it a victory for our state, as of today, to recover the territory taken since February 24 (beginning of the Russian invasion) without unnecessary losses.” Zelensky reiterated that goal last week.

“We have no choice but to move forward – to move forward to liberate all our territories,” he said on Telegram. “We need to drive the invaders out of the Ukrainian regions. Although the width of the front lines is over 2,500 km, we feel that we maintain the strategic initiative.”

And on Monday, in a meeting with G7 leaders, Zelensky set a deadline: he wants the war to end and Ukraine to win by the end of 2022.

Russia is also suffering significant combat losses, losing about a third of its ground force in four months of war, Western intelligence officials estimate.

But Russia believes it can keep up the fight, eroding Ukrainian and Western resolve as the war’s global economic effects become more severe, officials told CNN .

Source: CNN Brasil

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