May 30, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Ukraine appears to be delaying its counterattack

While President Zelensky continues his international tour with visits to Saudi Arabia and the G-7 summit in Japan, the Ukrainian military claims new progress in Bashmut. However, there was still the question of a major counterattack, somewhat surprising to Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Simwens (Royal Military School Brussels).

Tommy Theis

Ukraine says it has regained more than 20 square kilometers of land in Bashmoyt in a week. What’s the point?

“As far as we know, a double phenomenon is happening in Bashmuyet. In the city itself, the army of Wagner mercenaries continues to advance westward. Ukraine controls only about 5 percent of the city, so it’s about the last streets and buildings. They are well protected and the fighting and Russian artillery fire is fierce. In particular.

On the other hand, the Ukrainians started small local counterattacks on the flanks south and north of the city a week ago. Right now, there is no danger of the Russians being cornered, but that could still happen.

“In the end, Bashmuyt itself will likely fall into the hands of the Russians, but the question is whether Ukraine will care that much.”

Why not?

Putin gains nothing from it. The city has been completely destroyed, and therefore is of no strategic importance. It is not the case that with the invasion of Pashmut they can suddenly advance further and capture the rest of the Donetsk province. The Ukrainian lines west of Bashmut are well established, so there is a good chance the Russians will get stuck there again and even harder. Moreover, they lost tens of thousands of soldiers during the ten months of war and burned tons of weapons.”

Are the attacks on the wings of Bashmut mark the beginning of the Ukrainian offensive?

“No, probably not. And the brigades that have been training in recent months have not been deployed to counter-attack here. We don’t see tanks and armored cars from the west here either. Only when they appear is a sign that the offensive will really begin.

“It could be a purely opportunistic counterattack by a Ukrainian commander who noticed that the Russian defenses are not that strong after all. Another option is that it was actually a deliberately planned measure, which could be a diversionary maneuver to attract additional Russian reinforcements.”

The weather in Ukraine has been improving for several weeks, and the land has dried up enough. So why didn’t the spring offensive start?

Until recently, it looked as if Ukraine had begun formationOffensive Operations: Attack Russian warehouses and command centers behind lines to disrupt their logistics, and launch small local attacks to test defenses.

But that seems not to be the case now. For example, curiously, Ukraine deployed some Storm Shadow missiles to Luhansk last week, but not anymore. That sudden effect is now gone. So it seems very likely that Ukraine had to postpone its planning.

What could be the reason behind this?

The Ukrainians in Bashmoyet may have noticed that they are not quite finished yet. Attacking those flanks should be a relatively easy process compared to what’s to come, because Russia has not yet been able to significantly build up its defenses there. The fortifications in the south near Zaporizhia, where a real attack might take place, are much stronger.

It is also possible that not all conditions have been met yet and they are still waiting for additional materials from the West. At least that is what Zelensky himself says, although that may also be misleading. The additional weapons that Zelensky promised last week from Germany and France, are among Other countries, it is no longer valid for this stage anyway, but rather for a few months.

Meanwhile, there have also been a lot of explosions on the Ukrainian side in recent weeks, due to Russian airstrikes on cities like Lviv and Khmelnytskyi in the west. Ukraine is silent about what exactly was hit or at most says old Soviet missiles are stored there. But it cannot be ruled out that there are also materials necessary for the attack and that the preparations have actually been disrupted.

“To be clear, it is not for the West to say when Ukraine should launch its attack. It will come anyway. But if the cards are not right, the best military strategy is always to wait, no matter how great the outside pressure. A late attack is better than a bad one.” .

Russia now bombs Kiev with missiles almost every night. Is this also to disable future attack?

I can’t imagine Kiev being a logistical center for the upcoming military operations. Moscow seems rather eager on Kiev in response to the drone attack on the Kremlin a few weeks ago, which was an embarrassment to Russia. Moreover, it appears that Putin has undertaken a prestigious project to disable the US Patriot battery that helps protect the airspace over Kiev. However, at the moment this does not seem possible, and Russia is simply firing its best arrows at non-military targets.

On the other hand, Russia is clearly trying to deplete Ukraine’s air defenses by continuing to send cheap drones. For Russia, this is always a win-win situation: Ukraine has to launch expensive missiles at it to shoot it down, and if it hits its target, it can also cause significant damage.

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