By David Sole
Reports surfacing in Western media indicate a serious split developing among political and military leaders in Ukraine. With almost no progress after eleven weeks into their much vaunted Spring Offensive, Newsweek magazine reports that some top Ukrainians are advocating an end to offensive operations. Instead they are favoring that their forces dig in and prepare to defend against a possible Russian counteroffensive in the Fall.
Newsweek’s David Brennan wrote on August 16 “Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive has – so far – proved underwhelming…winning back slivers of land…at high cost.” The choice gives President Zelensky “an impossible choice: to go all-in and risk a costly failure or to cut Ukraine’s losses and accept a politically damaging defeat.” The article goes on to speculate on whether the battlefield defeats might lead to a shakeup in the top military command.
While Ukraine has had to settle for the capture of a few small villages on the southern front, Russian Federation forces have been carrying out their own offensive on the northeast arena. As Russian troops advanced toward the important town of Kupiansk, Ukraine has been evacuating civilians in anticipation of its capture by the Russians.
The US/NATO promoters of the Ukraine proxy war against Russia, however, are still pushing forward with no hope of victory or thought of peace talks. The Biden administration has asked Congress for another $24 billion for Ukraine, on top of over $100 billion already allocated.
This new request includes $13 billion in military aid plus $7.3 billion for economic assistance. This continued funding is facing growing opposition across the United States, as shown in a recent CNN poll that showed 55% opposed to more Ukraine outlays.
President Biden also has given approval for NATO allies to give Ukraine F-16 fighter jets. Denmark and the Netherlands have been authorized to give these combat aircraft after originally opposing the transfer. Russia had previously called such an action an unacceptable escalation.
Prior to any transfer will be the need to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the fighters. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote to Danish and Dutch officials to “express the United States’ full support for both the transfer of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine and for the training of Ukrainian pilots by qualified F-16 instructors.”
Another report stated that the Ukrainians would be given four months of training and that the deployment of the aircraft into Ukraine might not be until the spring or even summer of 2024. But four months of training will hardly make Ukrainians proficient in the challenge of facing off against the might of Russia’s air force and Russian anti-aircraft capabilities. It should also be noted that F-16s are not the most modern fighters in the West’s arsenal and may be no match for the more modern Russian planes. In fact, the F-16s are being retired from both the Danish and Dutch air forces and will not be a game changer if and when they finally appear in the war.