Putin 'Fundamentally Misjudges' Ukraine's Capabilities as Aid Arrives

putin 'fundamentally misjudges' ukraine's capabilities as aid arrives

Vladimir Putin attends the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow on May 9, 2024. The Russian president is underestimating the impact U.S. military aid will have on Ukraine's effort to fight his aggression.

Vladimir Putin is underestimating how incoming U.S. military aid might help Ukrainian forces fighting his troops.

That latest assessment by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) comes as retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Mike LeFever told Newsweek that American weapons could arrive in time for Ukraine to stave off Russian battlefield momentum, although Ukraine could lose some territory in the interim.

The Washington, D.C., think tank assessed the Russian president's comments on Wednesday to his commanders and officials that his troops are improving their positions on the eastern front and repelling Ukrainian counterattacks.

Putin has downplayed the threat of Ukrainian counterattacks along the entire frontline, suggesting he does not think Kyiv can liberate territory and that his troops can indefinitely pursue creeping advances, the ISW said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence's (ODNI) 2024 Annual Threat Assessment said Putin believed Russian forces have blunted Ukrainian efforts to retake significant territory and that U.S. and Western support for Ukraine is "finite."

After months of delay, the U.S. Congress approved a $61 billion package for Ukraine in April, although there are concerns over whether the aid will arrive in time.

LeFever, CEO of security and risk management firm Concentric, said that even if equipment was put in position ahead of the U.S. vote, "it will still take time to get the logistics train in there and so there's going to be some territory that the Ukrainians, unfortunately, are going to lose until they can get the resupply in."

"I don't think it's going to be extreme losses of territory or terrain of strategic significance before those reinforcements start really flowing in to be able to support them and get them in the right position," he told Newsweek.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

U.S. officials are confident Washington's security assistance can arrive in Ukraine at scale by July and allow Ukrainian forces to reverse many recent Russian tactical gains, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that Russian units had entered the northern parts of Vovchansk, in the Kharkiv oblast, although the Ukrainian troops have reportedly prevented them from establishing a foothold.

The limited operation in the northern Kharkiv region suggests Putin and his top brass might be figuring out the risks and chances of success for other offensives. Months of gradual gains in eastern Ukraine had fostered the belief that Ukraine would be unable to stage counterattacks or counteroffensives, the ISW said.

But the think tank concluded it would be wrong for Putin to do so because "this calculus fundamentally misjudges the tactical capabilities that Ukrainian forces will have once U.S. security assistance begins to arrive to the front at scale."

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