The Ukrainian Counteroffensive Getting Closer
The Case for Ukrainian Optimism
It seems that the counteroffensive is getting closer and closer—certainly June would make sense as the launch month (though Ukrainian command will undoubtedly continue to be governed by its own clock). There are also some interesting signs in the shaping campaign that the counteroffensive is getting closer.
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There seems lately to have been an uptick on attacks on Russian depots and ammunitions, and on Russian command and control centres in the last week or 10 days. Reports have been coming recently on depots in places such as Lyman, and fuel depots in Crimea.
Certainly if you read the regular updates of the Ukrainian general staff, they have been claiming a great deal of attacks recently on Russian depots and command and control.
I argued a while back, that, seeing how the Ukrainians had waged war before, that there would be such attacks the closer they came to the counteroffensive. They would not want to do such attacks too early (giving Russia time to recover) and they would not want to do them right at the start of the counteroffensive, because they would want forces at the front to struggle a little with supplies before attacking. However a sustained campaign of this type would indicate the counteroffensive is approaching.
“Thus looking at increased Ukrainian ranged capabilities, and knowing the way the Ukrainians like to fight, I would think that the real sign the counteroffensive is starting, is when a large number of ranged attacks start going off on Russian logistics or command/control targets. They will want to do everything possible to weaken Russian forces in the front lines, and destroying Russian supplies and depriving Russian soldiers of command is one of the best ways to do this.”
So there are some signs that the counteroffensive might be getting closer (though still not starting right away). Now what has also gone hand in hand with this narrative is the idea that the Ukrainians will not be able to achieve the kind of military successes that will politically they will want or need. In other words, that the counteroffensive will be moderately successful, but Russia will still be left in control of much of the territory they now occupy when the Ukrainian offensive winds down. In that case, so it was said even in Ukraine when I was there, Ukraine might come under political pressure to agree a deal with Russia that it will not want to sign. This was a very real worry.
Obviously it is important to not assume the Ukrainians can do too much in this counteroffensive. The Russians will be on the defensive and should still have a great deal of firepower at their disposal. Certainly we have seen defensive firepower to be difficult to triumph over for both sides so far. The Russians throughout the war have only advanced incrementally and bloodily, and the Ukrainians struggled in their first counteroffensive in Kherson—in the end they drove the Russians out by cutting supply lines, not by breaking Russian front lines.
That being said, the way that the Ukrainians have gone about the preparations for their counteroffensive seems to hold out a significant chance for a greater success than many have argued.
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