The Ukrainian counter-offensive has so far encountered enormous Russian resistance. Despite support from the West in the form of arms deliveries to Ukraine, there has been no rapid progress in the Ukrainian counter-offensive so far.
One reason for this could be that Kiev has to develop new strategies, since the western arms deliveries so far do not include air forces. As a result, Kiev will be forced into grueling ground tactics, according to the “World“. A circumstance that leads to resentment among Western observers, who had expected faster forward movement.
However, military experts are not surprised by the current situation: many did not expect rapid breakthroughs by Ukraine. After all, the Ukrainians no longer have the element of surprise on their side, as was the case in the Kharkiv region in the autumn. In addition, the Russians have changed their defense strategy and entrenched themselves behind well-fortified defense lines, as reported by “Welt”.
Russians rely on minefields
The Russian armed forces have changed their defense strategy against the Ukrainian offensive in recent weeks: they entrench themselves behind well-fortified defense lines and have used anti-tank mines heavily, which has slowed the Ukrainian advance. In some areas, the density of minefields would indicate that Russia is likely to use far more mines “than its own military doctrine requires,” according to the UK MoD in a recent frontline report.
The Russian minefields are intended to slow down the advance of the Ukrainians, in order to then attack Ukraine’s armored vehicles with kamikaze drones, attack helicopters or artillery. This means that the Ukrainian troops are faced with the challenge of using their limited resources as effectively as possible and finding their own creative solutions in the fight against the Russians.
Russian air superiority becomes a problem for Ukrainians
Above all, the Russian air superiority for the Ukrainians is a problem. Kiev has only a few outdated combat aircraft available, which are inferior to modern Russian models and can hardly offer air support, reports the “Welt”. Ukraine’s anti-aircraft systems would have to be used to protect cities from attacks on civilian targets, making them unavailable on the front lines. The West’s failure to arm Ukraine with advanced Western combat technology is now showing consequences.
Edward Stringer, former Head of Joint Force Development at the UK MoD, said in the “Financial Times“Hard-to-date arms supplies have forced Ukraine to pursue grueling ground tactics. We constrained Kyiv to fight in a way we wouldn’t fight and take losses we wouldn’t take,” Stringer said. The Ukrainians therefore see themselves faced with the challenge of developing their own innovative strategies.
Russian offensive is suspected
Despite the setbacks, a total of about 160 square kilometers have been released since the offensive began, according to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, including areas that have been Russian-held since 2014. In the south in particular, the Ukrainians would advance slowly but steadily, advancing towards the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyj, has made the protection of the population a priority: “If you have to decide between the time factor and the people, then the people are always the most important thing”.
However, it seems that the Russians are also planning an offensive in the north-east: the Russians appear to be assembling troops there at the moment. This would be another reason why Ukraine is still holding significant forces in reserve – to be able to react to possible surprise attacks by the Russians.