War in Ukraine. Ukraine’s relations with its international partners are becoming increasingly complex. Therefore, it was inevitable that tensions and disagreements would not arise between Kiev and the West, CNBC reports.
The author of the editorial board of the Observator 03.08.2023, 16:47
Ukraine must resolve the delicate situation with its international friends, according to CNBC. They rely on them for billions of dollars worth of military hardware and other forms of humanitarian and financial assistance. In addition, continuous and increasing arms supplies are needed to fight Russia. Kyiv claims that it is fighting not only for its own survival, but also for the West.
Ukraine tested the patience of the Americans
Kyiv’s biggest backers, the US and UK, which have provided more than $40 billion and $4 billion in military aid to Ukraine respectively, have pledged to support Ukraine to the end. The phrase “by all means” became a repeated mantra at allied public meetings.
Kyiv repeatedly thanked its partners for their help. Behind the scenes, however, frustrations have also culminated, with Ukraine’s ongoing needs and demands and the military and political considerations of its allies in some cases conflicting, causing embarrassing moments.
The most recent tensions have arisen over Ukraine’s military strategy and demands on NATO. There were reports that Volodymyr Zelensky angered some allies ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July, when he called the absence of a timetable for accession and the imposition of conditions for issuing an invitation to join absurd.
Some officials in Washington and London felt Zelensky had gone too far when he told allies that Ukraine deserved “respect” at a meeting where NATO discussed additional aid to Kyiv. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace then criticized Zelensky’s comments. According to him, the UK is not an Amazon warehouse that can supply Kyiv with arms indefinitely if given a “shopping list”.
Even in Washington, Zelenskiy’s comments were not received better. U.S. officials were so pissed off that they were considering cutting what Kyiv would receive at the summit, sources told The Washington Post. “The comments Zelensky made before the last summit didn’t get a good response in Washington … the US administration was very outraged,” a source who asked not to be named told CNBC.
“The US strongly advises Ukraine not to do certain things, but Kyiv does them anyway”
It also turned out that earlier Washington was concerned about other episodes in which Ukraine ignored the advice given by the United States. “So the United States strongly advises Ukraine not to do certain things, but Kiev does them anyway, ignores or ignores the concerns of the United States. Then they come to the United States, to Washington, to the Biden administration and complain that they are not participating in NATO negotiations,” — a source told CNBC.
After all, NATO stood firmly behind Kiev and emphasized its unity, focusing on the main goal: to make sure that Russia does not win the war and does not dare to attack other former Soviet republics. However, this episode showed that Ukraine must delicately deal with the demands and pressure on its allies, as well as how it assesses the expectations, priorities and political considerations of its partners.
Support for Ukraine among allies remains strong. But there are vulnerabilities
Jamie Shea, an international defense and security expert at Chatham House, told CNBC that support for Ukraine among allies remains strong, but the Vilnius summit showed vulnerability and the need for diplomacy and compromise.
“I think you have to distinguish between a strategic level and a tactical level, and on a strategic, geopolitical level, Western support for Ukraine is still surprisingly solid,” Shi said. But “it is clear that at the tactical level there will inevitably be problems, and during the NATO summit there were some problems, there is no doubt about that.”
Shi said Zelensky knew that NATO would not be able to accept Kyiv’s request for a membership schedule or an invitation to become a NATO member while the war was going on. And when he threatened to boycott the summit, Zelenskiy played a risky card that could have led to the collapse of the summit.
In the end, colder minds won out. “The United States and NATO allies have been working overtime to convince him that he should be looking at a half-full glass and whatever he gets,” Shi said. “Zelensky got the message, he showed up in Vilnius, and I think his advisers, because he has good advisers, told him that they are not helping Ukraine and that they cannot refuse the only guys who support them in terms of weapons and support. .”
However, Shi noted that Ukraine’s position was difficult and that there will inevitably be a gap between what Ukrainians want and what the West can offer them. Sometimes “it turns into a disappointment.”
“Ukrainians are in a difficult position. Obviously, their survival is at stake, they will always be unhappy, they will need more and more. A time in which the West will always believe that it is doing its best… to deal with this discrepancy and prevent long-term damage, and I think the Vilnius summit at least managed to prevent long-term damage.”
Ukraine angered the Americans when it decided to continue the fight for Bakhmut
Ukraine not only irritated its allies at the diplomatic level. Kyiv’s military strategy and the symbolic meaning it attached to fighting for every piece of Ukrainian territory ran counter to the military thinking and pragmatism of its allies. According to some reports, Kyiv irritated the Americans when it decided to continue the fight for the city of Bakhmut. The Ukrainians were almost surrounded by Russian forces in May when the Russians claimed they had captured the city.
Then military analysts wondered if it would not be better for Ukraine to tactically withdraw from the city, which was not considered strategically important. Ukraine decided to continue fighting, a decision that caused consternation in the US, according to Conrad Muzyka, a military intelligence specialist at Rochan Consulting.
“The Americans encouraged, to put it mildly, the Ukrainians not to fight certain battles the way Russia wanted, because there could be long-term consequences in terms of loss of combat capability and artillery ammunition. However, for Kiev, Bakhmut was more than a city. It was a symbol of Ukrainian defiance , even if its strategic value was debatable,” Music told CNBC.
“As a result, they lost a lot of people and very experienced forces. They used up a large amount of artillery ammunition that could have been used for this counter-offensive, and eventually burned the equipment, which means they are not able to … fully maintain their forces in the Bakhmut area.
British general: Worst outcome for Ukraine would be if they cut their reserves to pieces in front of Russian trenches
Retired British general Richard Barrons has defended Bakhmut’s Ukrainian strategy, saying domestically “Bakhmut is important” to Kyiv. According to Barrons, the city’s defense appears to have been part of a broader Ukrainian strategy to wear down the Russian military, “starve, stretch and beat” Russian troops. It was supposed to attack the reserves, ammunition stocks and logistics of the Russians in order to stretch the army along the front line for almost 1000 km.
Now the anticipation of the “shock” part of the strategy is growing. There is speculation that since last week, Ukraine has begun using some of its reserves, including brigades trained and equipped by NATO, to break through Russian defenses in southern Ukraine.
“We think we are about to see, but not necessarily, that these forces are intent on a major invasion of Russian-held territory,” Barrons said, but added that Ukraine must resist allied pressure to achieve quick results. They should not use such force if conditions are not favorable, he said.
“Ukraine feels that it is being pressured by Western allies to show progress in this counteroffensive, to prove to them and to all of us that this war can be won on the battlefield,” he said.
“But the best approach is to act at the right time and at the right moment. The worst outcome for Ukraine would be if they took these reserve forces and blew them to pieces in front of the Russian trenches they failed to break through. will be a tragedy for the participants and a tragedy for the campaign in Ukraine this year.”