Autumn rains may prevent Ukraine from using Western-supplied heavy tanks, the outlet has warned
Ukraine's faltering counteroffensive spells serious danger for Kiev, as lack of progress on the battlefield could lead to dwindling Western support, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The article points out that while recent months have been marked by intense fighting across the entire region, with both Ukrainian and Russian forces conducting attacks, the frontline has remained largely unchanged.
The situation has proven relatively stable despite Ukraine's much-hyped offensive that has been underway for more than three months. Kiev's officials have blamed well-fortified Russian defenses, extensive minefields, and delays in Western arms deliveries for the lack of progress.
A slowdown in the counteroffensive, according to the NYT, "comes with huge risks for Ukraine."
"If it looks unlikely to recapture large areas of the country, Western support could wane, either through lack of political will or unwillingness to donate more weapons," the report warns.
Marina Miron, a postdoctoral researcher in war studies at King's College London, suggested that Russia's strategy in Ukraine was "to let the Ukrainians run against those defenses, kill as many as possible, and destroy as much Western equipment as possible."
On September 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Kiev had lost more than 71,000 troops since the start of the push, while Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed earlier this week that Ukraine's casualties had amounted to more than 17,000 service members this month alone.
Ukraine's counteroffensive may also be jeopardized by weather factors, the NYT continued, adding that heavy autumn rains could make the ground almost impassable for heavy Western-supplied tanks such as US-made M1 Abrams that started arriving in Ukraine earlier this week.
Fears of dwindling Western support for Kiev come as Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko admitted that while his country has secured about $42 billion in funding to help offset the budget deficit, "there are fewer and fewer of those willing to give money."
Meanwhile, on Monday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the US - Kiev's main backer - would be able to provide Ukraine with military assistance only for another "few weeks" unless US Congress approves a new funding bill.
He was referring to a request by US President Joe Biden to send another $24 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which, however, met pushback from Republicans, who have repeatedly voiced accountability concerns while rebuking the US leader for a lack of strategic vision.