Kiev officials have tried to dampen expectations about an upcoming counterattack against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces, but many Western officials and analysts feel the stakes are too high for Ukraine.
“This counterattack is going to be a complete game-changer one way or the other on whether or not Congress can pass an additional motion.” [spending package] About Ukraine, Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a Texas Republican, said this week while talking about congressional aid to Ukraine, according to Punchbowl News.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also spoke enthusiastically last week about the counterattack, and many Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for giving Ukraine what it needs to deliver a successful answer to Putin.
“The dangers of a counterattack for Ukraine are the need to show Western backers that the investments and risks over the past year and a half are paying off,” said Northwestern University political science professor William Reno. Newsweek. “A major failure will open more political space for critics of Western aid, particularly in the upcoming elections in Europe and the United States.”
Renault added that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government “also need to show the Ukrainian people that their sacrifices were not in vain and that the occupied territories can be reclaimed.”
Last month, Natalia Galibarenko – Ukraine’s ambassador to NATO – apparently tried to reduce expectations about the upcoming counterattack. During an interview with the Lithuanian media LRT, she stressed that “one counterattack cannot decide the course of the whole war”. Alternatively, she said, “several counterattacks” might be required for such an outcome.
A now successful counterattack, said Lawrence C. Reardon, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, “would enhance Ukrainian advantages while further weakening the Russians.” Newsweek.
“If the counterattack does not succeed, the United States and Europeans will continue to provide arms, but may be more open to peace initiatives that would freeze the two lines,” Reardon said.
Mark N. Katz, a professor at George Mason University’s Char School of Politics and Government, said Newsweek A failed counterattack is likely to lead to some voices in the West wanting to withdraw support for Ukraine.
“They will say it is time for Ukraine to adapt to the painful reality and agree to a ceasefire with Russia that will leave Moscow in possession of most or even all of the territory it now occupies,” Katz said. Putin hopes that will happen.
“By contrast, a now successful Ukrainian offensive – however defined – will not only make it easier for Ukrainian congressional supporters. [in the United States] to continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine, but it is also difficult for its adversaries to make a convincing argument as to why that should not continue,” Katz said.
Regarding the consequences for the battlefield, David Selby — Associate Professor of History at Cornell University and Director of Teaching and Learning at Cornell University in Washington — said Newsweek A failed counterattack “is likely to re-establish the existing stalemate”.
“Unless the Russians have enough forces to manage a major offensive themselves, the situation will end where it began, though with many casualties,” said Selby. “So it will be a failure, but it will not end the war.”
On Monday, President Joe Biden was asked by AFP about the expected counterattack. The news agency said the president showed his support by “silently raising his hand and tying his middle and index fingers.”
Biden and many other politicians have staked their political reputations on Zelensky thwarting Putin’s invasion, and the Ukraine issue will benefit greatly from the counterattack going well.
But Selby said a failed counterattack could have “serious consequences”.
He said that “both the United States and Ukraine have been talking about the counterattack for months, with anecdotes about joint arms training and new weapons.” “If the attack fails, it will be a blow to the political prestige of the two countries,” he added.
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