Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive could go on for several months. Kiev launched its operations in early June, sustaining heavy losses and gaining little territory. The US expects Kiev will fail to retake territory, as Ukraine lacks sufficient military equipment.
Responding to a question about Kiev’s progress during the first six weeks of its counteroffensive, Bliken said on Sunday, “These are still relatively early days of the counteroffensive. It is tough. The Russians have put in place strong defenses.” He continued, “It will not play out over the next week or two. We’re still looking, I think, at several months.”
Blinken made the remarks the day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Western officials knew Ukrainian forces did not have enough training or equipment for their counteroffensive but hoped they could break through anyway.
“When Ukraine launched its big counteroffensive this spring, Western military officials knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons—from shells to warplanes—that it needed to dislodge Russian forces.” The WSJ report continued, “But they hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day. They haven’t.”
Blinken appeared to give a contradictory statement to CNN, saying, “Every step along the way ever since, we’ve worked to try to get them what they need when they need it.”
Ukraine will not receive more artillery shells or warplanes anytime soon. Last week, American officials predicted Kiev would not receive F-16s until the start of 2024. Additionally, General James Hecker said the West’s inability to produce enough artillery rounds would not be solved in the short term.
Kiev’s forces use more shells per day, 2,000 – 3,000, than the US can produce, 30,000 shells per month. The supply crunch led President Joe Biden to violate US law and send cluster munitions to Ukraine.
Cluster bombs drop submunitions that often do not explode until years after the conflict ends, killing innocent civilians. American law forbids the US from exporting munitions with a dud rate of over one percent. The cluster munitions shipped to Ukraine have a dud rate of at least two percent, which is likely as high as 14 percent.
The White House has been willing to ignore laws that are inconvenient to its policy of arming Ukraine. A Department of Defense inspector general report found the billions in weapons Washington is shipping to Kiev are not undergoing the end use inspections required under the Arms Export Control Act.