Some officials in Western countries fear that a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive would force Vladimir Putin to declare a general mobilization in Russia. This was reported by The New York Times (NYT), citing officials in the U.S. and EU countries.
This may happen if Moscow makes a mistake and, for example, does not strengthen the defense in the place where the Ukrainian troops will strike the main blow, says the U.S. intelligence. Then the front line in that area would be insufficiently defended, allowing Kyiv to deliver a crushing blow, one of the possible scenarios cited by the NYT.
In general, the West doubts that the AFU will be able to fully liberate the occupied territories. Kyiv’s allies would consider the success of a counterattack to be the return of key population centers or a strike that would make Moscow think about the prospects of war.
The newspaper’s interlocutors in the U.S. intelligence services believe that the most likely scenario for the first stage of the offensive is small victories for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. For example, the Ukrainian army might liberate part of the Donbass territories. The liberation of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant could be important both from a strategic and symbolic point of view, the newspaper notes.
Another important goal of the summer campaign, cited by Ukraine’s allies, is to cut off or narrow the land corridor to Crimea through which the Russian army supplies troops.
At the same time, if the Ukrainian Armed Forces fail to capture a single city and the front line does not shift significantly, U.S. and EU authorities will consider the counterattack a failure.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in early June. The first phase brought greater successes than previously expected in the White House, The Washington Post (WP) columnist David Ignatius wrote, citing informed sources. According to them, Ukrainian forces launched an attack on June 5 in several areas in the southern direction at once. Despite the mined areas, the AFU units managed to break through the Russian defense and advance 5–10 km forward.
The current pace of the offensive gives U.S. officials hope that the Ukrainian army will be able to reach Mariupol and Melitopol and cut Russia’s land corridor to Crimea, WP noted.
Washington expects a Ukrainian counteroffensive to lead to Kyiv regaining “strategically significant territory”, U.S. Presidential National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier. According to him, events on the front will strongly influence future negotiations.
The Ukrainian authorities have not publicly announced what they consider to be the success of the counterattack. At the same time, the head of the Defense Ministry warned that expectations of the planned attack were inflated.
“Expectations from our counteroffensive campaign are overestimated in the world. Most people expect something grandiose”, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told The Washington Post. Expectations can lead to “emotional disappointment”, he said.