Zelenskyy Says Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Plans Were Leaked to Russia

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
February 26, 2024World News
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Plans Were Leaked to Russia
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends news briefing n Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested on Sunday that the plans for Kyiv’s counteroffensive last year had fallen into Russian hands before it was launched.

“Our counteroffensive action plans were on the Kremlin’s table before the counteroffensive actions began,” Mr. Zelenskyy said at a press conference in Kyiv.

After the press meeting, Mr. Zelenskyy’s office confirmed to Agence France Presse that Ukrainian president was indeed referring to Moscow obtaining sensitive military planning information.

Mr. Zelenskyy did not provide any further information on the leak, how the information was obtained, or when.

Asked whether Ukraine had plans for another attempt at a counteroffensive this year, he was affirmative.

“We have a plan, a clear plan,” he said. However, he added, “Several plans will be prepared because of information leaks.”

Mr. Zelenskyy said a new offensive may come as early as May.

Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive, backed by billions of U.S. and European dollars, began in June 2023 but failed to break through the Russian defense lines before the winter locked the frontlines into another stalemate.

The Ukrainian forces met a multifaceted Russian defense line that consisted of layer upon layer of static barriers designed to impede tanks, intricate networks of trenches and tunnels, and strategically camouflaged batteries, tanks, and command posts, all of it backed by a constant barrage of Russian artillery.

The Russian defense strategy proved an insurmountable challenge for the Ukrainian army. The defenses held, and early prospects of a Ukrainian breakthrough that would sever the land bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea have since faded.

Though virtually no territory was lost or gained, the failed counteroffensive did seriously deplete the Ukrainian army’s resources.

Russian forces are now back on the advance across eastern Ukraine, having on Saturday captured the symbolic frontline town of Avdiivka, and continue to push on, seeking to get the most of their current advantage in ammunition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the capture of Avdiivka “an absolute success.”

“It needs to be built on,” he told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. “But that development must be well-prepared, provided with personnel, weapons, equipment and ammunition,” Mr. Putin said.

Kyiv claimed on Sunday that half of the promised Western weapons were delivered late, as a U.S. military aid package is currently being held in by Republicans in Congress after the Biden administration tied the Ukraine Aid to American border security.

Mr. Zelenskyy also disclosed Ukraine’s first official death toll in more than a year.

“31,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in this war. Not 300,000, not 150,000 … Putin is lying there … But nevertheless, this is a big loss for us,” Mr. Zelensky said.

According to Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the war has cost Russia enormous material losses.

“Ukraine has taken off the battlefield 21 naval ships, 102 Russian aircraft, and 2,700 Russian tanks,” Ms. Nuland said at a Feb. 22 talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, claiming that “50 percent of Russia’s ground combat power” has been destroyed.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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