U.S. officials believe Ukraine should liberate the occupied territories in the country’s south before winter comes. They stressed that Ukraine would face a decisive battle for these areas before winter creates difficult combat conditions for both sides, and, therefore, there is a possibility that Russia will strengthen its position, according to the British daily newspaper the Financial Times.
The U.S. said Ukrainian forces urgently need to recapture the south before winter because the ground in the area hasn’t frozen in the last three years, so the site will soon become very swampy.
These conditions complicate the maneuver for both sides, forcing them to stay on the main roads. However, analysts say mud also gives an advantage to those who protect the territory since they do not need to move on the ground.
In recent days, the Ukrainian army has made rapid progress on two different fronts: de-occupying part of the territory in the east and penetrating areas in the south around the regional center of Kherson. Therefore, the Pentagon said Kyiv should take advantage of its success in the east to repel Russian forces occupying strategic areas in the south, which is the way to the Black Sea.
“The real long-term catastrophe for Ukraine is that Russia cut off Ukraine’s water access from Mariupol to Odesa. The lifeblood of Ukraine is its access to Odesa, so it is important for them to be on the offensive and not just on the defensive in the south,” said Chris Murphy, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Ukrainian military leadership also agrees with this opinion. They say the coming weeks will be critical in returning to the southern territories.
“It is certainly necessary to advance quickly in the liberation of the occupied territories because there is a feeling that changes in the weather will limit further active military operations in this region,” said Ihor Romanenko, former deputy chief of the Ukrainian General Staff.
“If our allies help us by providing more modern weapons that we require, the situation will be much faster, and we will not talk about weather factors,” he added.
In response, U.S. representatives said they provide Ukrainians with what they need. They also believe that Putin’s recent steps towards annexation and his outright nuclear threats should not prevent Ukraine from moving towards the return of its territories.
Ukraine’s Western partners closely monitor the Kherson region offensive to find evidence that the Ukrainian military can use received weapons for a comprehensive multilateral attack on Russian forces deeply embedded in the urban environment.
President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed on Oct. 4 that the Ukrainian military had recaptured several cities northeast of Kherson. They are also heading towards Kherson from the north, but more slowly.
The DOD emphasized that Russian troops are experiencing difficulties with infrastructure and logistics. Kyiv can use it to its advantage because it is difficult for them to improve supplies for the winter.
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