Strategic Shift: US and Ukraine Seek a Fresh Approach to Waging War in 2024 - NYT

The United States and Ukraine are teaming up to revamp their game plan for the ongoing conflict with Russia in 2024, reports The New York Times (NYT), citing sources from both nations.

The situation is critical, according to American officials who stress that Ukraine may face defeat in the war without a fresh strategy and increased funding.

Comparing 2024 to the grim outlook of 1916, the deadliest year of World War I, where battles stagnated and countless lives were lost, US officials emphasize the need for a change in approach.

Washington proposes a "hold and build" strategy, urging Ukraine to maintain its current positions, bolster its military strength, and concentrate on developing its capacity to manufacture its own weapons throughout 2024.

US officials believe that this approach would equip Ukraine to fend off potential Russian offensives in the future.

The ultimate aim of the strategy is to establish a strong deterrent, pushing Russia to consider peace talks by the end of 2024 or in 2025.

On the flip side, Ukrainian representatives lean towards an offensive strategy, which involves ground assaults or long-range strikes, as per NYT.

Inspired by successful deep strikes on Crimea in the previous fall, Ukrainian planners are considering tactics that target weapons factories, depots, and crucial railway lines for transporting ammunition. These tactics aim to achieve symbolic victories that could destabilize Russia.

A former senior military official from Ukraine, though tight-lipped on specifics, acknowledged the development of a "very bold" new plan.

Both American and Ukrainian officers are set to fine-tune the details of this strategy during war games scheduled for January in Wiesbaden, Germany.

The push for a revamped strategy stems directly from setbacks in the Ukrainian counteroffensive and concerns about diminishing support from the US Congress.

Ukrainian representatives express uncertainty about the sustainability of ongoing US support. Simultaneously, US officials point out that Ukrainian expectations for American aid, like requesting millions of artillery rounds from Western stockpiles that don't exist, may be unrealistic.

American officials caution their Ukrainian counterparts that the support approved by Congress is unlikely to match the scale of assistance provided during the initial two years of the war, which amounted to over $111 billion.

US strategists are emphasizing that Ukraine doesn't necessarily need to reclaim all of the nearly 20 percent of the country it has lost to secure victory in the war. This stance sharply contrasts with Kyiv's goal of "returning to the borders of 1991."

Quoted by the NYT, American officials suggest that strengthening defenses and enhancing the ability to produce more weaponry could be sufficient to bolster Ukraine's position when peace talks inevitably resume.

Last week, Republican senators blocked a White House request for $106 billion in emergency aid, primarily intended for Ukraine and Israel. Conservatives linked their refusal to support the package for these close foreign allies to the demand for Democrats and the White House to agree to extensive immigration reforms.

Simultaneously, Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to a $175 million package as "one of the last" that could be offered to Ukraine with the funds already approved by Congress.

In a critical move, on Monday, Dec. 11, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in the US, aiming to secure more military aid to combat Russia's full-scale invasion.