In a successful offensive, Ukraine has recaptured several towns in Kharkiv in the past few days, some of which Russian troops had previously occupied for months.

As ex-Australian general and military expert Mick Ryan analyzed on Twitter, “the Russians are in real trouble”.

Although there are still no details about the course of the offensive, he suspects that it was hardly predictable for Russia. “Deception was a key part of all Ukrainian preparations for this phase of the war,” explains Ryan. “It was an excellent plan to deceive the Russian reconnaissance and surveillance forces.”

While the Russian army is currently concentrating primarily on southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces have launched an attack in the north.

Apparently, they managed to minimize the use of the Russian air force, which would have weakened the Ukrainian offensive, Ryan said. The speed of the advance led to significant material losses on the Russian side, since, among other things, supply depots with artillery ammunition and petrol fell into enemy hands.

However, the ongoing operation would not only endanger Russia’s positions in northern Ukraine, but above all on the eastern front. The fact that the city of Kupyansk, including its important transport hub, fell back into Ukrainian hands hurts the Russian army the most. This would endanger supply routes, and the psychological pressure on the soldiers fighting in the east could also increase. Ryan writes that Russian troops will find it difficult to continue fighting knowing their rear and logistics are under threat.

This, combined with a lack of reserves, may prompt Russia to withdraw units from the south towards the east – which in turn could open up new opportunities for the Ukrainian army and, in a kind of domino effect, trigger further tactical retreats and defeats in numerous regions.

According to the Australian military expert, this shift in the dynamics of the war has a major impact on the “struggle for influence” in both Europe and China. In Europe, despite the looming energy crisis, Ukraine’s successes would entail further military and economic support for Ukraine.

“In China, this is a great embarrassment for Xi (…),” says Ryan, referring to the Chinese head of state. “Not only has he tied himself to a loser (Putin) – his narrative of the ‘decline of the West’ is also being tested.”

In view of the high speed of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian troops will find it difficult to keep up. The ex-major general reminds that the Luhansk region and large parts of Donetsk and southern Ukraine, including Crimea, are still occupied by Russians. In order to recapture more areas, further offensives are needed, which also entail risks. After all, Russian counterattacks could block or choke off the Ukrainian advance, isolating advancing Ukrainians.

Unlike some of his high-ranking military officers, Russia’s President Putin is still a long way from admitting there are problems with his invasion. Rather, there will be an “unexpected reaction” from the Kremlin boss in a timely manner. The Russians have not yet been defeated, “but are in real trouble,” according to the military expert.

After all, Ukraine is now the war party, from which both the initiative and the tactical and operational dynamics emanate. “The war is not over yet, but maybe the tide is finally turning,” said the ex-major general.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive is showing enormous success. Russian troops have withdrawn from most of the Kharkiv region – apparently leaving military equipment behind in the process. The Russian troops are met with ridicule online.