Ukraine’s counteroffensive plan ‘impressive,’ Sen. Graham says
Wednesday, 31 May, 2023, 18:06
The Russians are “in for a rude awakening” when the Ukrainian counteroffensive begins, Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) told NatSec Daily following a weekend trip to Kyiv.
The lawmaker received a “deep dive” briefing on Ukraine’s military plans from President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY and his team, he said in a phone interview during his return home. “In the coming days, you’re going to see a pretty impressive display of power by the Ukrainians.”
Zelenskyy announced Monday that “decisions have been made” about when the troop movements will begin.
Graham, whom Russia wants to arrest over his support for Ukraine, wouldn’t divulge any specifics about the campaign or its timing. But he did say that “shaping operations” — that is, strikes that stretch Russian defenses and worry Moscow’s planners about what’s coming next — have already begun, which means the counteroffensive itself is likely to begin relatively soon.
MYKHAILO PODOLYAK, a Zelenskyy adviser, seemed to confirm that shaping operations started this month in a CNN interview Tuesday. “Everything that is happening now is a precursor to a counterattack, a necessary precondition,” he said.
Asked if he thought Ukraine could push Russia back out by the end of the year, Graham didn’t say “yes.”. What he did say was that the initial priority should be “taking back some strategic locations.”
The visit to the Ukrainian capital was Graham’s third since the war began. He’s seen the Zelenskyy administration shift from a shell-shocked team to one that is increasingly confident about military victory. “There’s a bounce in his step that wasn’t there before,” Graham said of the president.
He reports that Zelenskyy is grateful for all the weapons and technology the United States has provided Ukraine. The Republican, though, has continuously called for the Biden administration to send more, namely the long-range Army Tactical Missile System. Graham believes the U.S. can make enough replacement ATACMS after they’re delivered to Ukraine, even if the Pentagon fears it doesn’t have any to spare.
And he wants Congress to agree to a spending package that will send more equipment to Kyiv. It’s unclear, though, if lawmakers will take up a weapons supplemental as they debate how to avoid a debt-limit crisis.
The senator said he told Zelenskyy: “I will do everything in my power to ensure you have a robust package of weapons and technology to finish the job.”
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