Ukraine Offensive – Week Three

Russia's President Putin shakes hands with South Africa's President Ramaphosa at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg
Russia’s President Putin shakes hands with South Africa’s President Ramaphosa at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. | Photo:

By David Sole

As the Ukrainian offensive, now in its third week, seems to have stalled, new revelations expose how the U.S. torpedoed a signed peace agreement back in March 2022.

Battlefield reports from both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian sources agree that there have been no breakthroughs for Ukraine forces fighting in the southern Zaporizhzhia or the eastern Donbas fronts. On June 4 Ukraine launched a long awaited and much discussed “counteroffensive” against Russian forces. The Russians had spent many months preparing for this expected operation with layered defense lines extending across the 600 mile line of contact.

Fierce fighting has been widely reported as Ukraine’s U.S./NATO trained and supplied army has been brought into play. For months leading up to June 4 Ukraine’s President Zelensky and other government officials loudly proclaimed that they would smash the Russian Federation army and recapture large swaths of territory, including Crimea, held by Russia since 2014. Western media and government and NATO officials also repeated this narrative in hopeful anticipation.

The reality has deflated most of the hopes of the Ukrainian leaders and their imperialist masters. The New York Times reported on June 15 “Ukraine’s counteroffensive against formidable Russian defenses has been grueling and bloody…in hopes of punching through the deep network of minefields, trenches, bunkers, tank obstacles and artillery that the Russians built….Kyiv’s advances in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions are better measured in yards than miles.”

At the start of the third week of this offensive the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that Ukraine in the past 24 hours had lost “800 Ukrainian servicemen, 20 tanks, four infantry fighting vehicles, and 15 armored fighting vehicles.”

The tone of reports from Kiev and Washington has changed from wild predictions to recognition of the difficulties faced on the battlefield along with unwarranted optimism. It is true that Ukraine has not committed the majority of its army reserves, hoping to discover some weak points in Russian resistance that can be further exploited. How long Ukraine can sustain these losses is unknown but it will be measured in weeks, not months.

On June 20 the Ukraine deputy defense minister, Anna Malyar, admitted lack of progress and now claimed “it is not necessary to measure the result…only by …kilometers traveled.” The fact is that the fighting, and minor gains, have all been in the “gray zone” between the two armies. The Ukrainians have not yet even approached the first (of several) defense line.

While fighting continued a delegation of leaders from seven African nations visited Kiev and St. Petersburg hoping to encourage peace negotiations. Taking this opportunity, Russian president Vladimir Putin made public details of the failed peace negotiations held during March 2022 right after the beginning of the Russian Special Military Operation on February 24, 2022.

The talks between Russia and Ukraine foreign ministers were held in Turkey. It now appears that both nations “agreed on security guarantees and the general terms of Ukrainian neutrality…but Kiev then abruptly discarded the documents its delegation had already signed.”

President Putin, for the first time, exhibited the draft documents which ensured Ukraine remain neutral. The U.S., Britain, China and France were listed as big power guarantors of the neutrality. Both sides were in the midst of negotiating the details, such as the size of Ukraine’s army and the number of tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, etc. when Ukraine walked out of the negotiations. It is clear that the Ukrainians were pressured by the U.S. and  NATO to ditch peace efforts with the promise of endless military and financial support.

The idea of fighting Russia “to the last Ukrainian” appeals to the neocons in the West who have made no secret of this strategy. Should the Ukraine offensive suffer continuing defeats it is very likely that the Russian Federation could follow up with their own counteroffensive to push the Ukrainians back from the borders of the four provinces now incorporated into the Russian Federation. Such a buffer would put these territories out of range of artillery and rocket fire.

Negotiations under these conditions would amount to a Ukrainian surrender. Facing this prospect it is conceivable that the U.S. and NATO might dangerously escalate their involvement. This proxy war could turn into a much wider European conflict.

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