Op-ed

US has been preparing Ukrainian counteroffensive ‘for months’ – Nuland

The “Maidan midwife” confirmed Washington’s role in the conflict at the Kiev Security Forum

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Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told an audience in Kiev on Thursday that Washington has been helping plan the Ukrainian ‘counteroffensive’ against for almost half a year.

“Even as you plan for the counteroffensive, which we have been working on with you for some 4-5 months, we are already beginning our discussions with [the] Ukrainian government and with friends in Kiev – both on the civilian side and on the military side – about Ukraine’s long-term future,” Nuland told the Kiev Security Forum via video-link from the State Department.

She added that the attack will be “likely starting and moving concurrently” with events such as the NATO summit in Lithuania, scheduled for July 11.

According to Nuland, the US is also planning for Ukraine’s future military to deter Russia, so “wherever and however this ends – one year, six years, 16 years – we are not doing this again.” She also painted a rosy picture of a future in which Ukraine would be the “engine of Europe’s revitalization” and “setting the democratic example… for the whole world.”

The forum was organized by the Open Ukraine Foundation, established by former Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatseniuk, who moderated the panel at which Nuland spoke. Another panel was co-sponsored by the Atlantic Council, whose officials argued that “transatlantic unity and robust support can help Ukraine defeat Russia and renew European security.”

READ MORE: Ukrainian officials send mixed signals on counteroffensive

The government in Kiev had been heralding a major “counteroffensive” for months. President Vladimir Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have argued that they didn’t have quite enough weapons, ammunition and equipment and needed the West to send more. As of Thursday, two of Zelensky’s advisers gave public statements implying the offensive hasn’t started yet, while a third insisted it was already underway along the 1,500-kilometer long frontline.

Nuland famously traveled to Kiev to support the Maidan protests in December 2013, handing out pastries to the crowds demanding a pact with the EU. In a February 2014 phone call, she discussed the composition of the future Ukrainian government with US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt, infamously declaring “f**k the EU”. Three weeks later, nationalists would violently seize power from President Viktor Yanukovich, triggering events that would lead to Crimea rejoining Russia and clashes in the Donbass.

Returning to the State Department in 2021 as part of Joe Biden’s administration, Nuland was once again put in charge of Ukraine policy. Speaking at a Carnegie Foundation event in February, she said the conquest of Crimea and regime change in Moscow would be the ideal outcome of the current conflict. Her husband is Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the neoconservative Project for an American Century and her sister-in-law, Kimberly Kagan, runs the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington advocacy group frequently quoted by Western media about the situation on the Ukraine frontline.

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