According to a translation by The Kyiv Independent, Galibarenko told the Lithuanian media outlet LRT that it is important to understand that “one counteroffensive cannot determine the course of the entire war.” Instead, she said, “several counteroffensives” may be needed for such a result.
Ukraine has been preparing for a large counteroffensive for months, with officials originally stating it would be launched in the spring. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that Kyiv is delaying the counterattack against Russia because his military could suffer too many casualties due to what he characterized as an insufficient amount of Western weapons.
“We are now telling our international partners: Be patient, don’t push too hard,” Galibarenko said to LRT, per the Independent. “Now it is more important to think about what else can be done to make this counteroffensive successful.”
“The main goal of any counterattack is to liberate as much territory as possible. But also here at NATO headquarters, I explained that we should not put all our hopes in one counterattack [and] inflate its importance,” she said.
Ukraine conducted successful counteroffensives in 2022, but the coming military campaign has featured much buildup in the media and from officials on both sides of the war.
Some people have suggested that the counteroffensive has already begun. This includes Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, who said last week that he believes the counteroffensive is in “full swing.”
According to the Independent’s reporting of Galibarenko’s interview with LRT, the diplomat said it was “very good” that specifics about where and when the counteroffensive will occur are still not known.
George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government professor Mark N. Katz told Newsweek that he feels Galibarenko “is downplaying the importance of the upcoming Ukrainian offensive in order to keep expectations limited.”
“If she or any Ukrainian official claimed that it would be decisive, then any achievement short of that would appear to be a failure,” Katz said. “By contrast, by indicating that the upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive will not alter the course of the war, she is not raising expectations unduly if that is the result but sets the stage for a positive Western reaction to any gains against Russia that are made.”
Katz added, “The closest analogy to what she is doing is how corporations here in the U.S. downplay expectations about what their upcoming quarterly earnings will be but often manage to ‘exceed expectations’ when the actual results are announced.”