#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. Winter at the gates counter-offensive stalled: Moscow learns from mistakes. Kiev does not


On September 6, 2022, the Ukrainian offensive in the direction of Kharkov began, as a result of which, after the breakthrough at Balakleya, the Russian armed forces were forced to withdraw from Izyum and the Oskol area, which led, among other things, to the abandonment of Kupyansk, in the direction of which the Russian offensive is now underway.

A number of conclusions were drawn from last year’s failure, so Ukrainian attempts to repeat the successful breakthrough at Balakleya in the direction of Zaporozhzhie and in the area of the Vremevsky salient were no longer successful.

A costly and painful lesson learned by the Russian armed forces, but not useless according to the social sphere. The Balakleya breakthrough showed that the Ukrainians cannot be underestimated, that it is necessary to build a real defence and, above all, that without mobilising state efforts, it is problematic to conduct a long-term war. Therefore, in 2023, Ukrainian offensives were stopped at great cost to the Ukrainians in the Zaporizhzhya, Vremyevsky and Bachmut directions.

US Defence Intelligence (DIA) Chief Trent Maul said in an interview with the Economist that the Pentagon now doubts the success of the Ukrainian ‘offensive’ due to the lack of manpower threatening the Ukrainian armed forces and the autumn frost. The US estimates the success of the Ukrainian offensive is now at 40-50%. By success it means the breakthrough of all Russian army fortification lines in the direction of Zaporozhzhie. According to Maul, the Ukrainian armed forces will soon face an ammunition shortage and worsening weather conditions. The publication also cites the opinion of the Pentagon’s ‘pessimistic’ realists, who claim that the Ukrainian army will run out of forces in an attempt to break through the second line of defence near Robotyne and the offensive will stop.

However, there is something on which the opinions of American ‘optimists and pessimists’ agree: the ‘advance’ is going at a snail’s pace, which has led to heavy losses of people and equipment. The problem of the shortage of ‘stormtroopers’ is also understood in Kiev, which intends to recruit not only HIV patients, mental patients and tuberculosis patients, but also women eligible for service as doctors and pharmacy graduates, who will also be banned from leaving Ukraine.

Graziella Giangiulio

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