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Ukraine Spring Counteroffensive Has ‘Very Good Chance’ of Success: Austin

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Ukraine has a “very good chance” at launching a successful counteroffensive during the spring.

Reports of the planned counteroffensive come as Russian troops have continued to struggle to make progress in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the Ukraine “special military operation” on February 24, 2022, aiming for a quick victory against Ukraine’s military, at the time perceived to be weaker than Moscow’s, one of the largest in the world.

However, Ukraine responded with a stronger-than-expected defense effort, bolstered by large amounts of weaponry provided by its allies. This has blunted Russian military gains, even allowing Ukraine to take back thousands of square miles of territory in a counteroffensive last fall.

Now, analysts are speculating that Ukraine could launch another counteroffensive in the coming months in an effort to reclaim more of their territory from Russian forces.

Austin, during testimony before the US Senate Committee on Armed Forces, was pressed on what the coming months of fighting could look like in the Russia-Ukraine. In his position, Austin has helped oversee the transfer of billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

Austin said he believes Ukraine will likely have the “upper hand” against Russian forces in the coming months as combat intensifies, pointing to Ukraine’s ability to inflict “significant” losses against Russian forces.

“They depleted their inventory of armored vehicles in a way no one could ever have imagined,” he said. “And now we see how Russia is reaching for T-54 and T-55 tanks because of the level of damage the Ukrainians have inflicted on them.”

With regards to the spring, Austin said he expects combat levels to increase in the coming months, after months of slower progress during the winter. He said that Ukraine will be well-positioned to make advances against Russia during the spring.

“I think we’ll see an increase in fighting in the spring as the conditions for maneuver improve, and based on the things that we’ve done and continue to do. I think Ukraine will have a very good chance of success,” Austin said.

While foreign policy experts believe Ukraine could launch a counteroffensive in the spring, Ukraine has downplayed this possibility. Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said earlier in March that Ukraine will only launch a new counteroffensive when it is ready, rather than adhere to any timeline.

According to The New York Times, the United States has promised to “fully and quickly” provide Ukraine weapons that would be needed for a spring counteroffensive.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are presently continuing to seek to prevent Russia from making gains in areas including Bakhmut. Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a months-long battle for control of the Donetsk city, as Russia aims to deliver a symbolic victory against Ukraine.

Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for comment via email.

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Ukraine has a “very good chance” at launching a successful counteroffensive during the spring.

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