withstand the storm, wear down the adversary, and then launch an attack.
Since the winter, prominent US and NATO officials have repeated it as the Ukrainian military’s catchphrase.
That was the idea, then. But can it be done, if yes, than how,when, and where? Even the Ukrainians may not be aware of this as they scan the 1,000-kilometer front line for Russian weak spots, just as they did when they abruptly launched the surprise onslaught in Kharkiv’s northeast in September.
They are nonetheless aware that it will be a pivotal turning point in the struggle. In an interview conducted last month, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, predicted that Russia and Ukraine will engage in “a major battle this spring, and this battle will be the last one before this conflict ends.”
It implies that the Ukrainians could take their time to fully use their resources. Making predictions is a fool’s errand; in the next weeks, there will be many bluffs and misinformation regarding intentions. Yet preparations have already started.
The conclusion of training and integration of new battalions, weakening the Russian rear, a robust logistical network, and real-time information are crucial prerequisites for a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
According to Mick Ryan, a retired general in the Australian army who recently visited Ukraine, the “intelligence picture will inform things like where there could be holes in Russian defensive deployments, as well as locations of Russian HQ, logistical, and reserve force positions.”
Ukraine is establishing several new corps, each of which will have a sizable number of soldiers. In addition to contemporary Western tanks, infantry combat vehicles, wheeled vehicles, and other equipment, Ryan claims that they will also feature a significant amount of engineering equipment.
These units could be almost complete.
According to Kateryna Stepanenko of the Center for the Study of War in Washington, DC, “Ukrainian sources have already signaled that they’re developing or have organized six to nine additional brigades for counteroffensives.”
Such large-scale offensives need a lot of gasoline, ammunition, food, supplies for the medical community, and replacement parts. Very essential is the logistical network, which may be impeded more by bad weather than armor.
What time and place?
In-person exercises with senior American and Ukrainian officials took place last month. The Ukrainians are rearranging elements on these maps to decide what their best line of action is, and they weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the dangers involved, according to Gen.Head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley.
Operations to hit ammo stocks, rear bases, and logistical centers well beyond the Russians’ front lines using long-range Western weaponry like HIMARS and sabotage operations will be one indicator, even if it may be well-camouflaged. Attacks of this kind have already increased in Crimea and southern Zaporizhzhia.
To deceive the Russians regarding the location of the main push, Futura Doctrina weekly author Ryan said that “we may realistically anticipate offensive activity presumably of various sizes in at least two (and perhaps more) sites in the east and south.”
The greatest benefit is in the south, where there is a chance to sever the Russian land corridor to Crimea and recapture some of the richest farmland in Ukraine. Most of the south of Ukraine, except Mariupol, has seen less devastation than the cities in eastern Ukraine.
The defense of the portions of Kherson that Russia still controls would become unsustainable if a southerly attack was successful. it can open the door for ukraine to take again control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the waterway that provides fresh water to crimea.
Stepanenko, though, concurs that concentrating just on one region would be a mistake. The east and south offensives may assist one another, which would provide extra logistical and deployment difficulties for the Russians.
A well-prepared army might launch a counterattack in the vicinity of Bakhmut to initiate offensive action. Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, was in the Bakhmut region last week and stated: “Our mission is to eliminate as many opponents as possible and create the circumstances for us to start an attack.”
What is a novel?
The Ukrainians are showcasing the Western equipment that has started to arrive to bolster their ground troops. Tank personnel has been sent to Germany and the UK, respectively, for training on Leopard 2 and Challenger tanks.
Their missile defenses are becoming better all the time and will become much better after the Patriot battery deployment. The first contingent of Ukrainian troops that trained with the Patriots has returned to Europe.
Nonetheless, integrating the units is important.
Before starting its counteroffensive, Ukraine has to improve its capacity for team combat. This necessitates rigorous cooperation between several Ukrainian troops, according to Stepanenko of ISW., and the integration of fires to assist mobility.
The Ukrainian playbook has not historically included this kind of combat, and it takes time to master it. Although the push into Kharkiv in September was successful and took advantage of Russian weaknesses there, the struggle to retake Kherson was far more expensive in terms of manpower and resources.
The Ukrainians have been getting the equipment necessary for any offensive operation over the last several months, including MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ammunition), mine-clearing tools, demolition bombs, and mine-clearance gear.
Also, more than 4,000 Ukrainian troops have undergone combined weapons training in Germany, including two brigades using Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker vehicles produced in the US and provided by the US.
1,200 Ukrainian troops are being trained in two motorized infantry battalions in Germany.
Moreover, training in the usage of US-provided engineering equipment will be crucial. In addition to demolition bombs, the most recent American assistance package revealed in March included armored vehicle-launched bridges that would follow advancing forces.
The Ukrainians will need to deploy combined arms obstacle-crossing in the next battle to get beyond Russian defenses, which include mines, anti-tank trenches, dragon’s teeth, and the augmentation of natural barriers, according to Ryan.
There is no military endeavor that is harder to organize, plan, and carry out, according to him.
The primary capability gap in mobile firepower that Ukraine faces has been addressed with Western help.
The safe deployment of Ukrainian mechanized soldiers to the battle area will be made possible, according to Stepanenko, with the assistance of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.
Western tanks will serve as the “tip of the spear,” but it is unclear whether there are enough of them to make a significant impact. Less than 100 Western main battle tanks, according to open-source data, may be present in Ukraine.
some layers of defense are made by Russia in last few mothns, specifically in south because Russia knows that Ukraine is getting ready for new attacks.
Moreover, Ryan claims that the Russians are likely prepared with mobile counterattack troops. The collecting of intelligence and long-range attacks to destroy such formations are crucial components of Ukrainian preparation.
According to military historian Stephen Biddle, “deep fortifications with significant reserves behind them nonetheless pose far greater issues for attackers.” Stephen Biddle says that “shallow front defenses may be breached with well-organized combined weapons assaults.”
The balance of talent and motivation on both sides, however, has been the “greatest single predictor of results in actual conflict,” according to Biddle, and this may bode well for the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainian armed forces have shown to be inventive, flexible, and nimble; the majority of its units have shown good morale in the face of overwhelming assault. Western forces have offered training in almost all aspects of the battle over the last year, from tank fighting to logistics and leadership.
In contrast, Russia’s fall mobilization hasn’t had much of an impact on the battlefield, and tales of dissension and weak leadership under a highly top-down structure imply that performance may not match the magnitude of Russia’s capabilities.
It takes us full circle to the fatigue issue. Russian soldiers, including some of their strongest divisions, have been attempting to breach Ukrainian fortifications in four key zones for the last three months. They have essentially made little progress, except for small improvements in the Bakhmut region.
The dilemma facing the Russian high command is when to go from attack to defense and whether to do so.
Their offensives “are likely to crescendo at some time,” Ryan added. To absorb or counter any Ukrainian offensives, they must determine whether to adopt a more defensive stance in the next weeks.
If a Ukrainian counteroffensive is to succeed, several stars must align.
In addition to surprising the Russians, they’ll want to develop an operating pace that overwhelms their ability to respond quickly or at the right time with the right force. Russians with the timing and location of their primary and supporting thrusts,” Ryan said.
Early success would create a wave of momentum. The Ukrainians just need to get through one of the Russian tactical defense lines, according to Ryan, before flooding the area with exploitation soldiers. This may then compel large-scale Russian realignments and withdrawals of its forces.”
The United States wishes for that. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in February that “Ukraine wants to do as soon as possible to develop or create momentum and produce circumstances on the battlefield that continue to be to its advantage.”
The Ukrainians are aware that they must provide results to keep the coalition’s trust and backing after receiving armor and other materiel worth tens of billions of dollars and training for thousands of their soldiers. The US will be in election mode the following year, with all the distractions that will undoubtedly result from it. Moscow is aware of this as it works to prolong the conflict.
Before engaging in what is sure to be a crucial episode in the fight, the Ukrainians will want to have everything tested, practiced, and rehearsed.