On Thursday evening, a number of so-called Russian war journalists started announcing on their Telegram channels that “the Ukrainians have already started” a counterattack. He even named the directions, among which were the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, as well as Bakhmut.
True, after about half an hour, they began to reassure themselves, saying that the situation at the front remains calm and “there is no need to panic”.
While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed back in April that he was actively preparing for a counter-offensive, he said on Thursday that, despite endless speculation about its date, Ukrainian forces are not yet ready.
“Having [tai, ką jau turime], we can go forward and, I think, successfully, he said. – But we would lose a lot of people. I think this is unacceptable. So we need to wait. We still need a little more time.”
The commander of the private mercenary group “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin accused the leader of Ukraine of lying.
“Zelensky is lying,” J. Prigožinas said on official social media channels on Thursday. “The counterattack is already accelerating.”
Mark Hertling, a retired general of the United States Army, reacted to V. Zelensky’s statement on Thursday, who stated that it is probably beneficial for the Ukrainian army not to rush to plan an attack.
“The counterattack starts when the commander thinks the time is right. It’s an offensive advantage,” tweeted M. Hertling, who was the commander of US forces in Europe and the Seventh Army.
Meanwhile, The Economist’s defense editor, Shashank Joshi, tweeted that “of course you would say that if a counter-attack was imminent”, adding a shrug.
Such statements by the highest Ukrainian officials not only increase pressure on the West for the supply of military equipment, but also mislead the Russian forces, which, in anticipation of a counterattack, began to strengthen defensive fortifications on the Crimean peninsula, evacuate people from the Zaporizhia region and prepare their weakened army.
“Secrecy is very, very important,” argued Dan Sabbag, the defense and security editor of Britain’s The Guardian.
“He is very important for what will happen next. In Russian, this is called maskirovka, a military concept that includes not only operational security and stealth, but active deception about what to expect. So we don’t know exactly what will happen and when,” the journalist added.
Previously leaked Pentagon documents on the war in Ukraine put the start date of the counteroffensive as April 30. But officially, the counterattack has not yet begun. Although the country’s defense minister Oleksiy Reznikov recently assured that the army is “approaching the finish line of preparation” and urged not to consider the counterattack as a “fatal” battle.
While it’s possible that the start of a major counterattack will be “big bang and very obvious,” Sabbagh reasoned, “there’s also the possibility that it will start gradually.”
The Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine noted that the breakthrough in Bakhmut is not one of the parts of the counterattack.
“In any case, in addition to the battlefield dynamics, there are political dynamics that put pressure on a quick start,” said the Guardian’s editor. “A lot of support depends on providing evidence of a path to Ukrainian victory.”
Senior officials told CNN last night that “shaping” operations, strikes on key targets such as weapons depots and artillery systems, are already underway, but could last indefinitely or be used to sow confusion about Kyiv’s intentions.
A similar position for the portal 15min reserve officer, defense expert Aurimas Navys also expressed earlier.
“The Ukrainians need to weaken the Russian forces so that they don’t have good logistics and good supplies. Ukrainians strike both in Bryansk and Belgorod, where there are important supply routes. Fuel is also burning in Crimea.
The Ukrainians should be congratulated for this, as these are operations that require special preparation and interaction. Both regular forces and special operations forces, drones and guerrillas are used. This is to be expected more and more,” he said.
Meanwhile, an officer stationed in the Donetsk region told CNN on Thursday that Ukraine is in an “active offensive phase” around Bakhmut after months of mostly defensive operations.
“At the moment, dynamic events are taking place on both the southern and northern flanks of Bachmut, but we will not talk about the results yet,” Major Maksimas Žorinas announced on the Telegram messaging platform.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar confirmed the breakthrough of Ukrainian forces near Bakhmut and emphasized that the Russians suffered heavy losses of manpower and lost 2 km of territory in the Bakhmut sector.
TGAsh: The Ukrainians are determined to push into the peninsula for the very reason that scares many Western policymakers: “Crimea is what really matters to Russia.”
However, on Friday on the messaging platform “Telegram”, Maliar claimed that what Ukrainian fighters are doing in the vicinity of Bakhmut are defensive operations and counterattacks, but such actions should not be considered part of any larger counteroffensive by Ukraine.
“This situation in the east has actually been going on for months,” she wrote. – Thats all! Nothing else is happening.”
The front line stretches for more than a thousand kilometers and separates the occupied eastern territory, roughly the size of Portugal, from the rest of Ukraine. At first glance, it would seem that there is no shortage of possible places of attack.
But experts note that the list of options that are both promising enough and valuable enough to be plausible is relatively short.
The Guardian’s defense and security editor noted that the most obvious strategic imperative would be to cut the land bridge to Crimea:
“This would greatly complicate the supply lines for Russian troops in the rest of Ukraine, which can only go through the Kerch bridge, and it would also be a humiliating blow to Vladimir Putin.” However, it is clear that the geographical location is quite obvious to the Russians as well. They have been preparing for a possible attack and are very well entrenched.”
Last week, the UK Ministry of Defense highlighted in its daily war review that “Russia has built one of the most extensive systems of military defense installations seen anywhere in the world”.
Earlier, British historian, political commentator and Oxford University professor Timothy Garton Ash said in his commentary on counter-attack scenarios that “Crimea is the key to the counter-attack scenario”.
In his view, the Ukrainians are determined to invade the peninsula precisely for the reason that scares many Western policymakers: “Crimea is what really matters to Russia.”
According to the historian, even taking back a part of Donbass for Russia would not cause such undesirable psychological effects as the threat to Crimea.
Leaked Pentagon documents revealed information gathered by US intelligence that Ukraine needs 12 brigades to make some progress – as many as 60,000. soldiers – and that’s about as many as it currently has.
D. Sabbaga noted that the Ukrainians could try to attack Crimea by crossing the Dnieper River further to the West.
“However, the Dnieper is a dangerous, wide river that has already harmed the Russians when they were forced to surrender Kherson,” the expert added.
According to analysts, a counterattack is also possible in Bakhmut, the eastern Donbass region, where Russia had gained the upper hand after long and fierce battles and was planning to attack other Ukrainian cities.
Bachmut “does not have strategic significance for either side, but it is symbolic,” D. Sabbaga said. – A breakthrough there would raise the question of what to do next: you would be stepping into territory that Russia has controlled since 2014. and in which the liberating forces would not have been so warmly received.”
Finally, the Ukrainians could seek a breakthrough in the northern province of Luhansk, which is less well defended and provides access to the Russian-controlled cities of Donbass. However, there is no such obvious strategic value in that area.
Are Ukrainian forces ready?
Although Ukraine maintains pressure on Western allies to provide new military equipment, it has achieved a lot since the war began. After a long diplomatic struggle, the defending country finally secured support with tanks, artillery, and long-range missiles, currently it lacks the capacity to strengthen the airspace.
Last month, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg announced that 230 tanks, more than 1.5 thousand tanks, were delivered to Ukraine. armored vehicles and a huge amount of ammunition.
Defense and security specialist D. Sabbaga pointed out that the Ukrainian forces have half as many tanks as they requested from the allies:
“The West tends to give enough to deter the Russians, but not enough to deliver a decisive blow.”
Leaked Pentagon Papers revealed information gathered by US intelligence that Ukraine needs 12 brigades to make some progress – as many as 60,000 troops – and that’s about as many as it currently has.
“Obviously, it’s expected to be a long war,” said the Guardian journalist. – Barring extremely unlikely circumstances, this counterattack should be expected to be game-changing. However, this does not mean that he cannot provide significant breakthroughs and strengthen support from Western capitals. Ukraine needs to win – not necessarily decisively now, but to show that there is a real possibility.”
Ukraine’s biggest success so far in this war has been to mislead Moscow into believing that the attack in September will be in the south and not in the northern Kharkiv region. Contingencies of time and place are the most powerful tools at Ukraine’s disposal as it tries to regain lost territory, cut off Russian supply lines and shore up Western support for the long war that likely lies ahead.
Source: 15min.lt RSS – suprasti akimirksniu | RSS by www.15min.lt.
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