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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insisted his military’s counter-offensive in opposition to Russian forces was about to “achieve momentum” as he sought to reassure Western governments who’ve change into alarmed by the operation’s sluggish progress.
The weeks-long effort to push again Russian troops in Ukraine had began later than Kiev had hoped, he mentioned Zelenskydue to inadequate ammunition, armaments and well-trained brigades, which had given Russia time to put mines and construct defensive strains.
However the momentum on the entrance was about to shift, Zelensky added, as he reiterated his allies to ship extra long-range missiles and superior fighter jets.
“We’re approaching a degree the place related actions can transfer quicker as we’re already going via numerous mining websites and demining these areas,” he mentioned.
The Ukrainian chief spoke by video to worldwide safety leaders on the four-day Aspen Safety Discussion board, the place the tempo of Ukraine’s counteroffensive to push again Russian troops in jap and southern Ukraine dominated the discussions.
The progress of the counteroffensive was “the query within the minds of everybody right here” and “the priority of all your pals on this planet,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister, informed Zelenskyy.
Jake Sullivan, the US nationwide safety adviser, informed the viewers in Colorado that the outcomes of Ukraine’s army effort wouldn’t change into obvious till Kiev totally deployed its troops.
“It is at that time once they make that dedication that we’ll actually see what the outcomes of the counter-offensive will probably be,” Sullivan mentioned.
Sullivan added that Ukraine’s emphasis on securing the provision of superior fighter jets for the counter-offensive was misplaced, as sturdy Ukrainian and Russian air defenses had prevented air energy from taking part in a major position within the battle, Sullivan mentioned.
“The view of our army commanders is that the concept that F-16s would play a decisive position on this counter-offensive on condition that basic actuality. . . They’ve a unique opinion than what you might have heard from some Ukrainian voices,” he mentioned.
Whereas public officers predicted optimistic prospects for Ukraine’s army progress, privately many have been much less optimistic.
“The dangerous information is that the Ukrainians are heading for what may very well be a winter of discontent,” mentioned Philip Zelikow, a historical past professor on the College of Virginia and a former diplomat. He pointed to the intense financial penalties of the battle and the already excessive prices the US and different allies must pay to maintain the Kyiv authorities afloat.
British International Secretary James Cleverly informed the Monetary Occasions that the discrepancy between Ukraine’s expectations and Western commitments was comprehensible as a result of the West had completely different priorities, whereas Ukraine had a singular focus.
“There’ll all the time be a slight distinction of method between the Ukrainian management and different international locations, when it comes to what we wish to obtain.”
The frustration of Biden administration officers at criticism from Ukraine and different NATO allies in regards to the tempo and nature of help the US is offering was palpable.
Senator Jim Risch, the highest Republican on the Senate International Relations Committee, mentioned the Biden administration had been too sluggish to ship techniques like important battle tanks and cluster munitions that finally discovered their method to the battlefield.
“I am bored with listening to about escalation. Cease speaking about escalation. In the event you do not escalate, you are going to lose,” he mentioned. “I do [Vladimir] Putin to get up within the morning nervous about what he is going to do this will make us escalate as a substitute of wringing our arms.”
Sullivan dismissed what he described as “caricatures” of American decision-making, together with the notion that the Biden administration was “unwilling to offer issues as a result of we’re nervous in regards to the Russians.”
The “huge scale” of US help made it clear that the US was “prepared to take dangers and we are going to proceed to take dangers to assist Ukraine,” Sullivan mentioned.
He additionally hit again at critics who mentioned worrying about Russia’s nuclear escalation was an indication of weak spot.
“It is the accountability of each member of NATO, together with the US, to consider the Russian response after we select to do one thing, as a result of that is necessary for our safety, it is necessary for international stability.”