Kyiv, Ukraine: In 2022, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, had plans to initiate a counteroffensive in the south with the objective of reaching the Crimea borders. This strategy, however, encountered resistance from American allies, as detailed in a book by Yaroslav Trofimov, the chief correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
Business Insider reports, “Had it come when he wanted, it might have reshaped the war, for better or worse.”
The plan was similar to the one executed later – to penetrate through the Zaporizhzhia region and disrupt the land corridor, thereby isolating Russian forces in Crimea, before Russia could establish defensive lines.
This proposal was considered daring and risky, but it never came to fruition. Zaluzhnyi and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had discussed it with their Western counterparts. At that time, Zaluzhnyi did not request armored vehicles from the US, only 90 additional howitzers and artillery shells.
“But when the planning was happening, Ukraine hadn’t yet demonstrated any offensive prowess, and US officials were wary. There were concerns a push from Berdyansk, to Melitopol, and down to the Azov Sea might create vulnerabilities in the line, especially given uncertainty about whether or not Ukraine could coordinate brigades for an effective offensive,” writes Business Insider.
The US viewed the plan as likely to fail, with potentially disastrous outcomes, including the risk of Russian forces seizing Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro.
This led Washington to advocate for concentrating forces on capturing Kherson. A source indicated that the Ukrainian Armed Forces lacked the necessary trained personnel and equipment.
“We thought that if they bit off more than they can chew in the South,” a Pentagon source confided to Trofimov.
Zaluzhnyi disagreed with this assessment, arguing to the Americans that Ukraine “must attack where we should, not where we can.” However, given the US’s significant control over military aid to Ukraine, there was limited scope for dispute, and the strategy was redirected towards Kherson.