Zelensky Adviser Pours Cold Water on Looming Ukraine Counteroffensive

One of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's top aides pushed back on a recent report that placed a May timeline for a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces against Russia.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the presidential office, was asked during an interview last week with—Ukrainian television station Channel 24's website—about a Politico story on Ukraine's potential spring counteroffensive. He responded by saying Ukraine is not adhering to a timeline and such a military move will take place only when the country is ready.
In a March 15 story, Politico cited unnamed U.S. officials as saying they believe Kyiv will launch its counteroffensive against Russian President Vladimir Putin's military in May. The outlet also detailed two possible strategies the officials believe Ukraine could take in the war that began with Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022.
Ukraine soldiers and Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak
Ukrainian servicemen in infantry fighting vehicles outside of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine on March 22, 2023. In inset, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak speaks during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 17, 2022. Podolyak dismissed a report from Politico that outlined possibilities regarding an upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces. Photos by ARIS MESSINIS/Genya SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images
According to Politico, one counteroffensive option is for Ukrainian forces to "push south through Kherson into Crimea," though that strategy was called unlikely because of Ukraine possibly not having sufficient personnel for an amphibious operation against Russian troops set up on the Dnipro River.
The more likely scenario, according to Politico's sources, is that Ukraine's forces would "move east from its northern position and then south, cutting off the Russian land bridge."
"I find it a bit ironic when journalists say what counterattack scenarios Ukraine will use. Maybe they should take a direct part in the work of the General Staff of Ukraine and plan operations then?" Podolyak said to
An assessment in early March from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) tank tank said Putin's forces might be too depleted from fighting in Bakhmut and other sites to launch a major offensive that many analysts predicted for the spring. ISW wrote that Ukraine is likely trying to conserve its forces for a coming counteroffensive.
Podolyak expressed his displeasure at Politico reporting any information about a counteroffensive, saying such a military move "should be a surprise for the enemy."
He said Zelensky and his military leadership realize counterattacks are necessarily or "there will be no statehood of Ukraine." However, Podolyak said a larger counteroffensive "requires a concentration of resources."
He added that Ukraine "cannot simply retreat or advance without being prepared for different scenarios and taking into account all the risks."
"It can only be said that the following months are required to accumulate a certain resource," he said. "After all, an offensive requires tools in a certain amount, which must be accumulated. We understand how long this will take logistically."
He also noted that the "military does not need to talk about the priority directions or scenarios of the attack."
"Ukraine is much more creative than Politico journalists think," Podolyak said. "We have already proven this many times during the war."
Podolyak previously provided an estimated timeline for a counteroffensive this month during an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
"We are not in a hurry, we will reorganize over the next two months. We will exhaust the Russians in Bakhmut and then focus elsewhere," Podolyak said at the time.
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