For months, the world held its breath in suspense as Ukraine prepared for its spring offensive on a grand scale.
By June, that was underway, and tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops, heavily armed with Western warfare, had taken to the battlefield to take back their country.
Despite the fact that the progress of the offensive was slower than many observers had hoped, Ukrainian forces slowly but surely recaptured areas occupied by Russia, according to the think tank. ISW.
He succeeded on three fronts
The famous think tank reports that over the past 24 hours the counterattack has been successful on three fronts, and Ukrainian forces continue to push back the Russians. Street by street, meter by meter.
– There was a gradual advance in the area around Orikhovo-Vasylivka, northwest of Bakhmut, as well as in the area around the border between Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk, Arne Bård Dalhaug told Dagbladet.
The retired lieutenant-general believes that one must have realistic expectations of what the Ukrainians can achieve before winter; Attacks of this magnitude are hard and slow work.
You can’t expect a counterattack to be a “walk in the park”. We are talking about a very complex process.
And it might get worse.
Because while the Ukrainians were preparing to attack, the Russian forces were making their own preparations.
– I got to the first line
For months the Russians fortified their defensive lines, awaiting the attack against which the whole world had been warned.
Miles of defenses were built to deter attacks against strategically important sites. Trenches and artillery positions were erected, and dragon’s teeth crossed the Ukrainian landscape.
In several areas, the defenses are several kilometers deep, says Dalhough.
– From satellite images, we know that these defensive positions consisted of three lines, each about ten to fifteen kilometers apart.
And perhaps most frighteningly for the Ukrainian forces: they have not yet reached the most heavily fortified area. And now the real trial begins, according to Dalhogue.
Ukrainian forces are now close to the first major defensive positions. They reached an area of the Russian defense lines intended to slow the advance, before reaching the first defensive positions already developed.
But it is not just Ukrainian forces that will face an uphill struggle. The Russians face their own challenges, first and foremost: the vast territory they have to defend.
– It must be remembered that the front is very long and the Russian defense will be very thinly deployed. Dalhoge explains that you simply do not have enough forces to be able to cover the entire front.
Russian forces are having major problems rotating fresh forces and bringing in reinforcements in several areas where the Ukrainians are now advancing, according to The Guardian. ISWciting a prominent Russian military blogger.
Dalhough believes it would be virtually impossible for Russia to cover the entire 1,500-kilometre front line, and that could create openings for the Ukrainians.
– If you try to cover it all up, it’ll stretch thin everywhere. Whereas if one concentrates around certain areas, the enemy may choose to attack the areas you have marked.
Dalhaug compares this to the Allied attack on the Nazi lines of defense after the Normandy invasion. For about six weeks, the Allied forces stalemated, before a sudden Nazi breakthrough drove them into a complete retreat.
And that’s exactly the kind of hack the Ukrainians are looking for, and they’ll try to exploit any vulnerability they can find, he says.
– In the past period, Ukrainians have done a lot of what we call “illustration with fire.” This means that one analyzes whether the enemy is strong or not, through the initial battles.
The military expert said that such tests for the Russian defense could bring results.
– It is possible that they found weaknesses in the ranks of the Russians in this way. Therefore, there are opportunities to penetrate it, if they find areas where the Russians are weak and are able to exploit them.
– That could be an advantage
Dalhough believes the Ukrainians have now got a new ace up their sleeve: the recently acquired cluster bombs.
A report from the Washington Post claims that the Ukrainians have now adopted cluster munitions. It will be interesting to see how this situation develops, because it is clear that such weapons will have the potential to influence the conflict in favor of Ukraine.
Cluster munitions open in the air and scatter hundreds of submunitions over a large area. Such weapons could contribute to the Ukrainian advance, says Dalhoge, by, among other things, effectively clearing Russian minefields.
But like many of the weapons and strategies now in use on the ground in Ukraine, cluster munitions have not been used on a massive scale, and the battlefield will be the ultimate test.
“Like so many other things, these weapons have not been tested in real situations, under such conditions,” Dahlhogg warns.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”