Ukraine’s counter-offensive cannot get slower than this. As Ukraine moves at a snail’s pace against Russia in its counter-offensive, Kyiv is only ensuring the tortuously stretching war gets nowhere close to the finishing line. The longer the war in Ukraine stretches, Russian president Vladimir Putin has every reason to be happy. The slogs and the snail strikes mean Ukraine’s counter-offensive is bound to keep alive Russia’s hopes of winning the war on its own terms.
Fighting with Sheer Optimism
Ukraine does not seem to appreciate this reality. Fresh from its success in breaching Russia’s defences on the Zaporizhzhia front, Ukraine is gung-ho about winning the war. Kiev is still hoping to send the Russian forces packing out of Ukraine lock, stock and barrel. https://poliphoon.com/the- final-shot-at-freedom/ However, the tragedy is that Ukraine’s three-month-old counter-offensive, which began on June 4th, is such a slog that it may not realise this dream. Yet, Ukraine is fighting with hope and enthusiasm, despite dipping morale of its soldiers. https://www.vox.com/23819064/ukraine-war- counteroffensive-russia-mines-tanks
This is sheer optimism, pumped like a balloon. Kyiv’s military men may argue that the optimism is based on their success in cutting through the mine belt, way ahead of Russian fortifications. Sure, Kyiv has laid up at least five mines a square metre in many spots. Moreover, their hopes are rising high primarily because their anti-tank mines are making sure enemy’s mine-sweeping equipment are destroyed.
Video Courtesy: YouTube/Wall Street Journal
Not Free from Artillery Attacks
Military experts seem to back Ukraine’s claim and say its hopes are not unrealistic. They aver that Ukraine has been moving as much as 1,200 metres ahead every five days. However, these advances are not heartening. Simply because Russians’ second and third lines, besides defensive positions, run more than 15 miles deep. Moreover, Russians are busy setting more mines. Moreover, with drones, they are making sure the heat of the threat keeps rising on Kiev. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe- 60506682
The heat is on Kiev as Ukraine invests much time in clearing the mines. Despite these perilous clearing operations, Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, is determined to get the mines removed by its military engineers, mostly after dusk. Yet, the engineers are not free from risks of artillery attacks. This is because they could still be spotted by Russian drones on an open terrain, punctuated by rows of trees, not by humans-inhabited houses and villages.
The Slog is a Strategic Problem
Undaunted, Ukraine is clamouring for sophisticated mine-clearing equipment. The West is slow to respond though. As a result, Ukraine is creating a six-mile wide corridor. This corridor can aid Kiev to move multiple artillery and tanks forward and place regions further south under immense pressure. Yet, Ukraine seems to find the distances that need to be covered daunting. This challenge is evident in Zaporizhzhia and Orikhiv. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/13/ukraine- desperate-for-help-clearing-mines-says-defence-minister
Melitopol and Berdiansk continue to remain very difficult targets meanwhile. This is also a reason why the counter-offensive is proving to be a slog. The slog is sure to blow up into a bigger strategic problem for Kiev. This is making Mr Putin hope to make Kiev surrender ultimately to his expansionary urge. Encouraged, he is busy planning to step on the war gas to grab huge parcels of Ukraine soon.
Kyiv is Ready to Hold the Line
Will these renewed hopes of Mr Putin tire the West? Will they not make the West run out of patience and stop backing Ukraine with more arms? The Russian tyrant’s renewed vigour is pushing him to launch his own brand of artillery-driven counter-offensives in many Ukrainian sectors, from Kupyansk to Lyman. Putin seems to be tasting some success in this strategy. This is evident in Kyiv’s desperate action of hastily evacuating civilians in vulnerable sectors. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/22/ukraine-evacuates-russia-retake-kupiansk/
Growing more desperate, Kyiv is building speedy reinforcements. Kyiv is in no mood to give up and it is ready to hold the line. Reason why Kiev is moving fast to the southern front, despite Russia’s feisty fight to stop Ukraine on its tracks. All these point to the possibility of the war stretching beyond 2024. As Russia has sought more arms now from North Korea’s president Kim Jong Un, Mr Putin too is aware of this possibility. Desperate again, Mr Putin is planning for a guerrilla attack on Ukraine’s power grid during winter.
The Slog is Sending Wrong Messages
In the midst of this slog, Kyiv seems to be banking on the F-16s promised by American president Joe Biden. As these fighter jets may arrive only next year, they may not make any major difference to the war equation. https://poliphoon.com/ukraine-is-fighting-two-wars-now/ Largely because Russia’s air strength is far from being emaciated. Sadly, Ukraine’s slog-offensive has begun sending wrong messages to the West. Nevertheless, Kiev seems to believe in the strategy of making small incremental gains commensurate to its potential strengths and plod on with optimism. https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-counteroffensive- slow-western-worries/32561606.html
The Poliphoon’s Last Word
Where does the war go from here? The war is bound to slog on, unless something drastic happens in Russian politics or to Mr Putin’s health and life. Despite the uncertainties, Kyiv is determined to slog on. It has already begun to accelerate the pace of its counter- offensive. Ukraine is a feisty fighter and it wants only arms, artillery and ammunition, and more of them, from its well-wishers in the West, the slog and its snail-like counter-offensive notwithstanding. Sure, Mr Zelensky is not asking for too much.