American officials helped prepare the Ukrainian military for its counteroffensive against Russian forces in the south of the country, CNN claimed on Thursday, citing anonymous sources.
In its article, the US outlet alleged that this assistance included joint “war-gaming” analytical exercises designed to help the Ukrainians get a clear picture of how much personnel and hardware they would need in different scenarios.
US officials, meanwhile, reportedly were able to better understand what kind of equipment, munitions or intelligence Washington could offer to Kiev.
According to the report, which cites multiple US and Western officials and also Ukrainian sources, Washington had suggested that Kiev should keep its counteroffensive focused solely on the Kherson region in the south of the country as opposed to trying to strike on multiple fronts, which had supposedly been the Ukrainians’ initial plan.
When asked for comment by CNN, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder refused to go into detail about the nature of what he called “routine military-to-military dialogue,” merely adding that the US provides the Ukrainians “with information to help them better understand the threats they face and defend their country against Russian aggression.” He also noted that Ukraine was the one making the final decision.
While arguing that there is now increased parity between the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, the multiple sources cited in the article pointed out that question marks were still hanging over whether Kiev’s counteroffensive would be successful and how long it would take.
Among the factors that have allegedly tipped the scale more in Ukraine’s favor recently, the anonymous officials named the delivery of sophisticated Western weaponry, including the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), as well as supposed hostility toward Russian troops among large swaths of the population in Russia-controlled regions of the country.
The latter, according to CNN, has been translating into guerilla-style attacks, assassinations and sabotage efforts behind Russian lines.
An anonymous US defense official cited by CNN concluded that much will now depend on how well Russian forces are able to defend the seized territory, adding that the Ukrainian counteroffensive may end up not being as “massive” as some would expect.
On Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that Ukraine’s offensive in the Kherson region had “failed miserably,” with pro-Kiev forces suffering “great losses.” Moscow stated that Ukrainian troops had been unable to make any gains.