During Ukraine's preparations for a counteroffensive, the United States advocated concentrating the Defense Forces on the advance in the south, but Kyiv insisted on attacks at three different points. The commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, believed that the enormous length of the front would be a problem for Russia, reports The Washington Post, whose journalists spoke with more than 30 high-ranking officials from Ukraine, the United States and European countries.
US and Ukrainian officials "at times sharply disagreed" regarding the strategy, tactics and timing of the counteroffensive. The Pentagon wanted the offensive to begin in mid-April to prevent Russia from continuing to strengthen its defenses, and the Ukrainians hesitated, saying they were not ready without additional weapons.
According to the publication, US military officials were confident that a mechanized frontal attack on Russian positions was possible with the troops and weapons that Ukraine had. Simulations of the counteroffensive concluded that Kyiv's forces would at best be able to reach the Sea of Azov and cut off Russian forces in the south in 60-90 days.
According to journalists, Washington advocated a targeted offensive along this southern axis, but the leadership of Ukraine believed that the Defense Forces should attack at three separate points on the 600-mile (over 965 km. – ed.) front: south toward Melitopol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov and to the east towards Bakhmut.
"The Americans had long questioned the wisdom of Kyiv’s decision to keep forces around the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut," the article reads.
Ukrainians, on the other hand, "saw it differently", the journalists noted, since the "Bakhmut holds" became a symbol of pride for the fierce resistance of the Defense Forces to a stronger enemy.
According to WP, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with the support of the top commander, "stood firm" about the need to maintain a large presence of Ukrainian troops in the Bakhmut area and strike the occupation forces there as part of the counteroffensive.
American officials "observed with disappointment" that for this purpose Zaluzhnyi left more forces around Bakhmut than in the south, including the country's most experienced units.
According to the media, Ukrainian officials argued that they need to wage a fierce battle in the Bakhmut area, because otherwise the Russian Federation will try to reoccupy part of Kharkiv Oblast and advance to Donetsk Oblast, which is a key goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to seize the entirety of this region.
"We told [the Americans], ‘If you assumed the seats of our generals, you’d see that if we don’t make Bakhmut a point of contention, [the Russians] would’. We can’t let that happen," one of the high-ranking Ukrainian officials told reporters.
According to a senior British official, Zaluzhnyi assumed that the sheer length of the front would be a problem for Russia – he wanted to stretch the much larger Russian occupation forces, unfamiliar with the terrain and already facing morale and logistics problems, to weaken their combat power.
According to WP, Western officials "saw problems with that approach," which would also reduce the firepower of Ukrainian forces at any single point of attack. Western military doctrine demanded a concentrated attack on one target, "the Americans yielded, however."
"They know the terrain. They know the Russians. It’s not our war. And we had to kind of sit back into that," an unnamed high-ranking American official told journalists.
According to Time, at the beginning of October, the political leadership in Kyiv allegedly demanded from the military commanders to carry out an operation to liberate Horlivka.
In the same article, the sources informed Time that changes in Ukraine's military strategy and "upheaval" in Zelenskyy's team are allegedly expected by winter.
On November 1, in a series of publications in The Ecomonist, General Zaluzhnyi laid out his vision of how to get Ukraine out of the trap of positional warfare.