Sixth Month of the War: Why Ukraine did not Lose and How its Strategy has Changed

On July 3, Russian publications spread the news that the head of the Russian Defence Ministry Sergei Shoigu, reported to President of Russia Vladimir Putin about the alleged release of the “LNR”. Shortly before this, Ukrainian troops retreated from Lysychansk with minimal losses. As of 25 July 2022, the front line has not changed anymore. Formally, when meeting with Sergei Shoigu, President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that the units “need to rest and recover,” but if you read military reports, you can see that literally the next day after the meeting between the Minister of Defence of Russia and the president, the fighting intensified. However, without apparent success.

It is interesting that in early July Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to the head of the Presidential Administration, made a loud statement that Lysychansk was the last big city that Russian troops managed to capture. One can treat statements of Oleksiy Arestovich in different ways, but let’s try to figure out what is happening at the front.

Adviser to the Minister of Defence of Ukraine Oleksiy Kopytko recalls that in February-March, Ukraine was in a difficult situation. Before the offensive, the Russians calculated how much weapons the Ukrainian army would have when conducting intense battles. It should be noted that over the course of several years, sabotage was committed in Ukrainian warehouses with ammunition, due to explosions and mass detonation of ammunition, the country lost hundreds of shells. The war began and the period when Ukraine was supposed to lose the ability to conduct active hostilities was two months.

“The Russians were well aware of what forces and means we had at our disposal after the destruction of our arsenals in previous years. They also probably imagined what kind of resource in the form of Soviet weapons we could theoretically attract (buy from warehouses, get from active armies, order production, and get it in a short time). The retreat from the northern regions of Kyiv and Chernihiv was an unpleasant, but a rational decision for them – the Russians retained a total advantage for the short and medium term,” Oleksiy Kopytko is telling.

The critical moment for the Ukrainian army came in May – then the number of Soviet-style shells dropped to a minimum, and the flow of foreign weapons was only gaining momentum. It was during this month that Ukraine suffered the heaviest losses that President Volodymyr Zelensky voiced – there were days when about 100 soldiers died a day, and several hundreds were wounded. The Russians fired twenty times more shells than the Ukrainians, so most of the deaths were due to shelling. So, the author is aware of some units that in those days lost 70 out of 100 people who were killed and wounded.

“The mass heroism of our soldiers allowed us to buy time. The defenders of Mariupol, Izyum, Popasna and other cities bought Ukraine a chance to win at a high price,” says Oleksiy Kopytko.

In spring, the first 155 mm howitzers began to appear at the front, and gradually the Ukrainian army got the opportunity to carry out counter-battery combat – that is, to suppress enemy artillery. At the end of June and beginning of July, another important factor appeared – the American multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) HIMARS arrived in Ukraine with a firing capability of about 80 km. In a few weeks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) hit more than 50 targets – ammunition depots (AM), oil depots and command posts. Until now, news about the exploded warehouses of Russians comes every day, on average, three units per day.

It is important to understand that some analysts have called this a turning point in the war: the Russians will be forced to disperse ammunition into small warehouses, which greatly complicates logistics. Thus, the Russian army will not be able to massively shell our positions and attack aggressively. It was on the “short shoulder” – that is, a short transportation distance from the warehouse to the front – that strategy of Russia was to “pour” Ukrainian positions with artillery fire.

The military analyst Viktor Kevlyuk explains that now the Russians are mastering new logistics tactics “from the wheels to the front line”, but in order to act in this way, skills are required, in particular, a methodology for planning such actions. At the same time, one can observe a decrease in the number and duration of enemy artillery fire raids. Three factors that had impact on this: the loss of guns, the loss of ammunition, the fear of a long time to operate from the same firing position, Viktor Kevlyuk says.

He names another factor – the poor controllability of various units of the Russian army.

“The problem lies in the Russian paternalism, as a system-forming factor in the control system: it is impossible to effectively manage the BTG [battalion-tactical group], the meaning of which is decentralized use, using a super-rigid centralized control system. It doesn’t work like that because it contradicts the essence of the creation of the BTG. The second factor is distrust of subordinate authorities, which is confirmed by the death of high Russian officials who are put forward in battle formations, leaving their command posts in the depths of the operational formation. Or they immediately deploy their command posts closer to the front line because they tend to duplicate junior command and control. The third factor is the significant loss of tactical officers and the lack of adequate replacements. The fourth factor is the lack of professionally trained sergeants,” Viktor Kevlyuk thinks.

These moments, combined with the loss of the ability to use massive artillery, significantly slowed down advance of the Russian troops. At the same time, Viktor Kevlyuk is sceptical about effective mobilization and explains what he means. Theoretically, the Russian Federation has a huge mobilization resource, but it cannot dispose of it. The war against Ukraine does not find a response in the Russian society. Support for the actions of the Kremlin is expressed mainly by those who are guaranteed not to be thrown into a meat grinder by Moscow, that is, propagandists and bureaucrats.

The Russian Federation does not have the resources to gather, train, provide and send 200,000 new fighters to Ukraine in order to quickly turn the tide of the war. Although there is a new trend – in the Russian republics, analogues of the Ukrainian “dobrobats” (volunteer battalion) are recruited, but on a national basis.

“Attempts to form units in the national administrative-territorial units of Russia, on one hand, imitate the presence of volunteers, and on the other hand, it allows local national elites to form their own military formations on the eve of the collapse of the Russian Federation, because it is not known how peacefully this collapse will occur. Temporarily, the interests of Moscow and the national outskirts coincided. But this is a double-edged sword – the Russian republics receive paramilitary units, and who knows how they can be used in the event of Vladimir Putin’s accomplishment or death?” Viktor Kevlyuk is reasoning.

In turn, military expert Konstantin Mashovets speaks about the strategy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the coming months. He believes that the Ukrainian military command has finally moved away from the concepts of the Soviet military school, which assumes a certain style of attack – a massive attack by a large number of troops and a concentration of superior forces in the directions of the main attack. This is how the Russians tried to fight, and the Ukrainian army is now implementing the principles of the so-called “war of a new type”.

Konstantin Mashovets explains that this method of warfare does not involve rapid massed ground attacks in the style of the World War I and II. Thus, the army avoids significant losses in manpower and military equipment. “War of a new type” is based on the principle of the so-called “gradual softening” of enemy force groupings, due to the advantage in reconnaissance and firepower.

“The essence of this principle is to force the enemy to leave or surrender by a “remote” method – to hit logistics, control points, create conditions when the enemy will not only be able to attack, but even hold the territory. Artillery and rocket strike for many weeks on important enemy units. Only at the final stage, this principle of warfare of the Armed Forces of Ukraine implies a limited ground offensive,” Konstantin Mashovets says.

He also announces an imminent similar “counter-offensive” on a certain sector of the front, apparently alluding to Kherson and the southern section of the contact lines.

In summary, we can say that the Ukrainian army survived the most terrible months with heavy losses. But ultimately, thanks to the slow, if not sufficient, flow of Western modern weapons, Ukraine will leave the offensive of the Russian army, significantly reducing its offensive potential.

In the coming months, hostilities will continue, and the strategy of the Ukrainian command in slowly grinding Russian troops is moving to a new level, considering the arrival of even a bigger number of HIMARS, long-range missiles, precision-guided projectiles, and tanks. And, as it was already officially announced, training of Ukrainian pilots on Western aircraft has already begun, which means that modern F-15 or F-16 aircraft will soon appear in the Ukrainian sky, which can also become a significant factor for the victory of Ukraine.

Maxim Butchenko

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  • Yaptırımları normal hapis cezası kadar fazla değildir.
    En fazla 3 aylık bir süre hapis cezasına tabi tutulur.
    Borçlunun tazyik hapis cezasına çarptırılması için icra takibine girmiş olması
    gerekmektedir. Borçlu şahıs, borçları için mal beyanında bulunana kadar geçen sürede tazyik hapis cezasına tabii tutulur.

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