Russia-Ukraine war: Will there be a spring counteroffensive? | Russia-Ukraine war News

Europe’s largest armed conflict as World War II is poised to enter a new phase in the coming weeks.

With no hint of talks to end 13 months of fighting between Russia and Ukraine, Ukraine’s defense minister said last week a spring counterattack could begin as soon as April.

Kiev faces an important tactical question: How can the Ukrainian military dislodge Kremlin forces from the land they occupy? President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is working hard to keep his military and the general public motivated for a long war.

Here’s a look at how the skirmish has evolved and how the Spring campaign might play out:

How did the war come here?

Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, but its attacks failed to achieve several key objectives and lost momentum in July. Ukraine’s counterattacks won over large areas from August to November.

Then the war got bogged down in a war of attrition during the harsh winter and fell into a thaw in the muddy early spring.

Kyiv can now take advantage of the improved weather to gain the upper hand on the battlefield with new batches of Western weapons, including more Western-trained tanks and troops.

But Russian forces were dug deep, lying in wait behind minefields and along kilometers of trenches.

A Ukrainian officer hides in front of a burning building
A Ukrainian police officer takes shelter near a burning building during a Russian air strike in Avdiivka, Ukraine [File: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

How has Russia progressed so far?

The war exposed embarrassing shortcomings in the Kremlin’s military capabilities.

The defeats on the battlefield included Russia’s inability to reach Kyiv in the early days of the invasion, the inability to hold some areas, and the inability to capture the devastated east. the city of bakhmut despite seven months of fighting.

Attempts to break Ukraine’s will to fight, such as relentless attacks on the country’s power grid, have also failed.

Moscow’s intelligence services misjudged Ukraine’s resolve and the West’s response. The invasion also drained Russia’s military resources, making it difficult to supply ammunition, morale, and numbers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seemingly concerned war could erode public support for his government, has avoided an all-out effort to win through a forced mass mobilization. .

“The Russians have a myriad of problems,” said James Nixey, program director of Russia and Eurasia at Chatham House, a think tank in London.

Realizing he could not win the war anytime soon, Putin said, he wanted to pull back and prolong the war in the hope that Western support for Kyiv would eventually wane.

Russia’s strategy is designed around “bringing the West down,” he said.

President of Ukraine
A soldier salutes Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he is presented with a medal at the Trostianets in the Sumy region of Ukraine [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP]

What’s next for the Ukrainians?

The Ukrainian army started the season with a powerful weapon line.

Germany said this week that it had delivered 18 Leopard 2 tanks as promised to Ukraine. Poland, Canada and Norway have also delivered Leopard tanks according to their commitments. The British Challenger tank also arrived.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he expects Western partners to supply at least two German-made Leopard 2 battalions by April. He also expected six or seven battalions of Leopard 1 tanks, with ammunition, from the coalition.

American Abrams tanks and French light tanks, along with Ukrainian soldiers who have recently been trained in the use of these tanks, are also committed.

Western help was crucial in bolstering Ukraine’s persistent resistance and shaping the course of the war. Zelenskyy realized that without the help of the United States, his country had no chance of winning.

New supplies, including howitzers, anti-tank weapons and a million rounds of artillery shells, will add strength to the Ukrainian army and create greater power.

“The sheer number of tanks could create a wedge deeper into Russian positions,” Nixey said.

According to Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov, in their counterattack, Ukrainian forces will seek to breach the land corridor between Russia and the annexed Crimea, moving from Zaporizhzhia towards Melitopol and the Sea of ​​Azov. .

If successful, Ukraine “will divide the Russian army into two halves and cut off the supply lines to the units located further west, in the direction of Crimea,” Zhdanov said.

Leopard 2 interactive

What could be the end game?

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, thinks Ukraine will need to launch a series of counterattacks, not just one, to gain the upper hand.

These operations will have “two purposes, either to convince Putin to accept a negotiated compromise or to create a military reality favorable enough for Ukraine so that Kiev and its Western allies can then self-freeze themselves. the conflict effectively regardless of Putin’s decision,” the institute said. a review published this week.

Nixey is certain that each side will continue to “torn each other” in the coming months in the hope of gaining an advantage at the negotiating table.

A decisive phase may lie ahead: if Kiev fails to make progress on the battlefield with Western-supplied weapons, the allies may be reluctant to send Kiev more expensive weapons.

The stakes are very high. Failure for Ukraine will “have global ramifications, and there will be no such thing as European security like ours.” [currently] understand that,” Nixey said.

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