Ukrainian Counteroffensive Increasingly Discredited
Friday, June 2, 2023
Lucas Leiroz, journalist, researcher at the Center for Geostrategic Studies, geopolitical consultant.
In the midst of the catastrophic situation of the Ukrainian armed forces, which are more and more losing territory and relying solely on terrorism as a combat tool, it is inevitable that the potential of the so-called “spring counteroffensive” be questioned. Western public opinion and even Ukrainian journalists are disappointed by the results of the conflict, realizing that the high expectations created around the “counteroffensive” were unfounded.
Since last year, Kiev regime’s propaganda has insisted that Russia is exhausted, weakened, and unable to continue fighting in the long term. The narrative was enthusiastically adopted by the Western mainstream media, which spread the “information” that Ukrainian victory was only a matter of time and resources, prompting the systematic sending of weapons to Kiev’s troops. Although the terrible Ukrainian results on the battlefield during the winter reduced this discourse, it was once again on the rise with the beginning of spring, as apparently this season would be the right time for Kiev to launch a counterattack with all its forces in order to repel the Russians.
But that was not what we have seen on the ground. The Ukrainian forces continue without obtaining relevant results. Western aid does not appear to be enough to prepare Kiev’s forces for a direct attack. Although the country has received since the beginning of 2023 long-range weapons, radioactive ammunition and new billionaire packages of military aid, the move towards victory has not started. On the contrary, Ukraine lost even more strategic territory in the spring, considering the Russian victory in Artyomovsk.
Indeed, it seems more and more necessary to admit that such a “counteroffensive” has been overemphasized. The propaganda of the supposed event did not take into account the material conditions to make it possible. Spring arrived and Kiev did not attend to the expectations it had created for the season. And now Western and Ukrainian media outlets need to find some way to handle this reality and disguise the catastrophic effects of Ukraine’s low morale.
The situation seems to have reached a point where no one believes in the counteroffensive or in the possibility of victory for Kiev anymore. Ukrainian soldiers, who are also deceived by the regime’s propaganda, no longer seem to have hope that they will be able to reverse the battlefield’s scenario. Ukrainian citizens already seem unhappy with the endless conflict. Western public opinion also questions the validity of continuing to finance an unwinnable war. And, consequently, Western authorities already seem to run out of arguments to send weapons to their proxy regime.
An example of how discourse around the counteroffensive already seems discredited is the recent article by Ukrainian journalist Svitlana Morenets “Has Ukraine’s counter-offensive been overhyped?”. Morenets points out that while Kiev encouraged counteroffensive propaganda, the Russians prepared properly to prevent such a move from succeeding. For her, the Russians are “well-prepared to face whatever is coming”, since “after the weeks of hype they have had time get ready and have been digging miles of defensive trenches and summoning reinforcements”.
On the other hand, she believes that “some in the Ukrainian government have been too busy advertising the counter-offensive rather than preparing for it and ensuring that every soldier has whatever they need”. The author seems convinced that the counteroffensive will indeed take place but asks for the “hype” around it to cease, since, if it is unsuccessful, it will cause terrible damage to Kiev, as it will discredit the Ukrainian forces in the West and decrease the chances of receiving more support.
“The Ukrainian counter-offensive will happen, but Kyiv should stop overhyping it. (…) Ukraine’s survival depends, in a way, on a war for the West’s sympathy and support. If we lose that, then the other war will be too hard to win”, she said.
It is interesting to see that this discourse is starting to spread among pro-Ukrainian journalists. This shows the growth of a more realistic view of the war. In practice, it seems that the Ukrainian military failure is already starting to be noticed among the regime’s supporters, who, as a solution, propose different coverages on the so-called “counteroffensive”, no longer with hype and good expectations, but with worry.
However, it is necessary to question whether such a counteroffensive really “has not yet begun”. It is a fact that the Ukrainians increased their firepower on the battlefield. Before the taking of Artyomovsk by the Russian forces, the soldiers of the Wagner Group faced hard combat, as admitted by the head of the PMC himself in videos in which it was possible to see many dead Russians. Ukraine also stated that attacks on Crimea would be the start of the counteroffensive, early in April. The problem is that the lack of effective territorial results has made the Ukrainian authorities justify the failure of their moves with the argument that “nothing has started yet”.
Most likely, the counteroffensive has indeed begun, but is severely limited due to the disastrous status of the Ukrainian armed forces. Contrary to what was promised, there will be no retaking of Donbass and Crimea, only a slight increase in Ukrainian firepower and the launch of various terrorist operations – such as have been seen frequently within undisputed Russian territory.
These terrorist incursions, by the way, have been the main Ukrainian attitude in recent times, which suggests that the so-called “counteroffensive” may be reduced to a mere prolonged terrorist operation.
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