Richard Kemp, in his recent article for the British Telegraph, discusses the Ukrainian counter-offensive and the challenges it faces. According to information partially reported by Politico, the Ukrainian counter-offensive had ambitious goals, aiming for a strategic breakthrough against Russian defenses or to wear down the Russian forces, leading to their eventual collapse.
It also aimed to maintain Western support for Kiev, all before the arrival of the unsustainable winter season for armored maneuvers. However, the situation has reached a point where none of these objectives seem to be within reach.
Instead, the counter-offensive has stagnated, unable to overcome Russia's heavily fortified defenses with the current military capabilities. In fact, the situation may be even more precarious, as Russia appears to be preparing for its own offensive against the weakened Ukrainian military.
Kemp points out that the counter-offensive could have been more successful if the US and European countries had provided more substantial assistance. While they offered some military aid to keep Ukraine in the fight, it was far from sufficient to secure victory against a formidable adversary.
The lack of decisive action and support is exemplified by the US's months of indecision, only delivering ATACMS long-range missiles in October, which could have made a significant difference if provided earlier. Additionally, the F-16 fighter jet, a potential game-changer for Ukraine, remains a distant prospect.
Elections in the USA are coming soon, and it will be interesting what kind of attitude the candidates will take towards Ukraine
Kemp attributes this failure to a successful Russian deterrence campaign, where Moscow's threats of escalation were met with hesitation and fear.
Washington appeared more concerned about avoiding retaliation than ensuring a Ukrainian victory. Kemp also suggests that President Biden was apprehensive about angering Putin by providing Ukraine with weapons capable of reaching Russian territory.
However, Putin's response to the use of ATACMS missiles, downplaying their impact, showed the hollowness of his threats. Nevertheless, Ukraine finds itself in a challenging position, with European leaders growing weary of the conflict and seeking a negotiated resolution with the Kremlin.
Furthermore, the international focus has shifted to the Middle East, where Russia's ally, Iran, is causing regional tensions. This diversion of attention from Ukraine has been an unintended consequence of Putin's strategy to reduce Western support for Ukraine.
As Biden approaches the upcoming elections, he faces the need for a significant foreign policy success to counter the criticism stemming from the Afghanistan withdrawal. His hopes of reviving the Iran nuclear deal and achieving a historic normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia now seem distant.
One of the few remaining options is finding a solution to the war in Ukraine. This raises the question of whether Biden might consider pressuring Ukraine into a ceasefire by threatening to withhold or reduce American support as a means to address the situation.