The battle for Donbass has been going on for weeks now. There are daily reports of Russian conquests and Ukrainian reconquests. It’s a battle of attrition, and Ukraine has now withdrawn from Sievjerodonetsk. For Australian military expert and ex-General Mick Ryan, there are now many indications that the next few months will be of crucial importance in this war – and that Ukraine has a decisive advantage.
“There is evidence that both sides are approaching a state of exhaustion due to the high casualty toll and high consumption of ammunition,” Ryan wrote in an analysis for the Sydney Morning Herald. “Both the Russians and the Ukrainians have lost a large percentage of their best troops and are now dependent on territorial defense forces and reservists.”
It’s likely, Ryan says, that there will be some sort of “operational pause” soon to allow both sides to train and re-arm themselves with new troops. Exactly this pause could help Ukraine more than Russia. Because the Ukrainians need time to familiarize themselves with the western weapon systems or to be trained.
According to Ryan, Ukraine has another strategic advantage: partisan warfare. Attacks against Russian soldiers and Ukrainian collaborators from Russian-occupied cities such as Melitopol, Cherson, Berdyansk and Kremenna are increasing. This is also what the “ Institute for the Study of War ” writes in its daily analysis.
“In the run-up to the war, weapons depots were apparently set up at various locations. And it’s likely that small teams of military specialists are training resistance cells across the South,” said ex-General Ryan. “This dangerous behind-the-line warfare aims to absorb the attention of an occupying army, slowly bleeding their skills and morale in preparation a conventional offensive that liberates the territory,” explains the expert.
And it means that Russia has to deploy more troops to control the territories it has taken. This in turn also means that Ukraine has more time to get Western weapons to the front. The multiple rocket launchers that have since been delivered from the USA and Germany could mean an important difference in Ukraine’s favour.