Political activity in Ukraine and political impact of war (18.08-25.08 )
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In the recent days, it has been acknowledged by several popular information media that the Ukrainian does not have combat power to break Russian defense-lines and cannot overcome such obstacles hindering an offensive as large minefields and Russian air superiority. Despite significant casualties, even the first of three lines of Russian defense has not been breached. It is now widely admitted by the US and European media that the Ukrainian military is incapable of taking Melitopol effort and cutting off Crimea from the mainland this year. It cannot be expected that the situation on the battlefield will crucially change in favor of Ukraine next year, especially if the Ukrainian resources and supplied military equipment are wasted in the senseless offensive actions.
Without retaking the southeastern town of Melitopol, which was turned into a Russian logistics hub, it is impossible to disrupt the Russian supply routes over which forces and equipment are being delivered to Crimea and other occupied territories along the Sea of Azov. In that case Russia will be able to maintain a balance on the battlefield or even obtain additional resources for the counteroffensive actions
Ukrainian troops do not have sufficient demining equipment and have to push through minefields towards enemy fortifications that has been made ready for their advance. Besides, Ukrainian formations are suffering heavy losses because of Russian air superiority. https://edition.cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-08-19-23/h_87ae2d15829b865a7e2d0d6c06129791#:~:text=The%20depth%20and%20frequency%20of,has%20long%20anticipated%20their%20advance.
The Ukrainian government spent a great deal of effort on advertising the offensive and inflating it with political significance. It impelled Russian troops to build well-fortified defensive positions and to fortify the 1400km long front line with anti-tank ditches, concrete obstacles, trenches and minefields. The Ukrainian president stated that Russia had created one of the largest minefields in the world in the occupied regions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U17EhtQkg_c
The recognition of the Russian well-prepared defense by the Ukrainian government shows that the offensive was launched in hope of sudden collapse of the Russian army.
Now, despite that all these anticipations proved to be wrong, the Ukrainian government continue offensive actions due to political reasons regardless the lack of chances for a significant military success. The government is striving to create a sense of momentum by the intensified air attacks inside Russia. Though the drone attacks can shift public attention away from Ukraine’s stalled offensive, they cannot change the balance of the war in Ukraine’s favor. The Ukrainian drones cannot reach any important military or infrastructure objects deep inside Russian territory because Russia also has sophisticated methods to combat them with jammers and detection. The Ukrainian forces are also trying to hinder supplying of Russian troops by striking Russian logistical targets with longer-range munitions far from the front line, but there have been no remarkable effect of such activity so far.
The Russian are making offensive counteroffensive advances, especially in the direction of town of Kupyansk (northeastern Ukraine) where a mass evacuation of civilians has been ordered by authorities. If Russia succeeds in launching counteroffensive actions in the northeast (and such a risk should be taken into consideration), Ukraine’s advances would be nullified and the situation on the battlefield would become extremely dangerous.
The window of time for Ukraine to carry on with offensive operations is limited. So the current tactics based on slow advance of ground forces, using drone strikes to reach logistic targets and to increase costs of war for Russian common citizens, and exhausting the Russian forces might make the Ukrainian army ill-prepared for the upcoming Russian counter-assaults. The Ukrainian military commanders expect that after the more advanced munitions and aircrafts, including the F-16 jets have been the Russian defense will be broken. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/20/ukraine-counteroffensive-analysis-war-russia/
But because of the Russian counteroffensive the situation on the battlefield can become much worse by that time and it will require more efforts and resources to set it right than there will be at Ukraine’s disposal.
The Ukrainian government seems recognize the possibility of such development and tries to prevent any public demands for the ceasefire in case of deterioration or the stalemate on the battlefield. The group of parliamentarians, including Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk (who is considered to be a close associate of Zelensky) sponsored the Draft Resolution on the state policy in the field of deoccupation and restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The Resolution, which will be surely adopted by the Parliament, suggests that the war can be terminated only after all regular and irregular armed formations of Russia have been completely withdrawn from the entire territory of Ukraine. The Resolution also forbids the deployment of Russian navy on the territory of the Crimea, in in contrast to the practice before the annexation of the Crimea. https://itd.rada.gov.ua/billInfo/Bills/Card/42551
Minister of Defence of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov in his speaches at the Veterans’ forum on August 22 warned that the war with Russia is going to be long and “every Ukrainian should realize“ that he can be enlisted in the armed forces. Reznikov also called on Ukrainians to unite in order to achieve victory. He explained that “it means not just liberating all our land, but making sure that the enemy never even thinks of coming back with revenge“.https://gordonua.com/ukr/news/politics/rjeznikov-vijna-mozhe-buti-dovhoju-kozhen-ukrajinets-jakij-bachit-veterana-maje-usvidomljuvati-zavtra-ja-budu-na-joho-mistsi-1678195.html
The forecast for potential development of current trends:
- The offensive will be continued due to the political reason despite it cannot achieve its goals. If the Russian counter-assault is successful the chances to establish the ceasefire will diminish dramatically.
- Zelensky will try to ensure that the hostilities cannot be terminated without the severe violation of the Ukrainian law. New bills and resolutions forbidding the ceasefire until the capitulation of Russia will be introduced by the President’s associates.
Recommendations for the European institutions and organizations:
- The Ukrainian government should be advised against enacting any laws forbidding the ceasefire or peace negotiations until the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
- The Ukrainian offensive should be stopped as soon as possible in order to prevent losing resources, military equipment and personnel required to contain a highly probable Russian counter-assault.