The Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south was announced for weeks. Then it was quiet for a long time – but since Monday Ukraine has stepped up its attacks in the south.
Former US General Frederick Hodges believes that the commanders could have picked a good time. “If Ukraine should actually start the offensive, they have chosen the right time and the right place,” Hodges told Deutsche Welle.
According to Hodges, Russian supply lines have been weakened by Ukrainian shelling, arms supplies from the West are being used effectively, and strategically important bridges are being destroyed.
The Russian side sees it – not surprisingly – differently. Since the beginning of the week, more than 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday in Moscow. According to army spokesman Igor Konashenkov, Russian troops also destroyed 63 tanks, 48 armored vehicles and four fighter jets. This information could not be independently verified.
The US think tank “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) reports on a Russian information campaign that is being launched by the Ministry of Defense and is being supported by military bloggers. According to the campaign, the offensive has already “failed”. The ISW disagrees on its website with a simple justification: “Military operations of this magnitude do not fail in the course of a day or a week.”
The security expert Joachim Weber from the University of Bonn explained the strategy of the Ukrainians to “Ntv”. The destruction of the bridge brought the Russian soldiers “into a situation that in NATO parlance is referred to as a ‘battlefield interdiction’,” Weber said. “That means the battlefield will be dried up from behind, the Russians will be cut off from their rearward communications.”
Meanwhile, there are more and more voices from the West that are cautiously reporting initial successes. The US Department of Defense, for example, sees “a certain amount of forward movement”. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder also said Wednesday, “We know from the Kherson region that Russian units are falling behind in some cases.”
In an interview with Die Welt, ex-German general Klaus Wittmann sees the first “Russian defense lines pierced through”. Joachim Weber remarked to “Ntv” that “that doesn’t have to mean much, since the Russian troops are certainly echeloned a little lower there.” And Wittmann also analyzes that the Ukrainian army “is not making any real progress” against the lower-lying defense lines. .
Former Bundeswehr Colonel Ralph Thiele also told “Ntv” that it was too early to assess the offensive: “In general, if you make a big offensive, you don’t talk about it, you try to surprise your opponent. Of course, Ukraine is trying to improve and stabilize its situation in the south so that Odessa is not in danger. But I would advise waiting a few days here and then seeing what really happened.”
Military expert Carlo Masala explains how important it would be for Ukraine to succeed: “If they (the Ukrainians) control Cherson, they also control the fresh water supply to Crimea. So that means an instrument of pressure to put the Russians under even more pressure in Crimea.” Russia would also have problems concealing such a defeat, Masala said in an interview with Bayern-2-Radiowelt on Tuesday.
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