Angry Ukrainian winter - the breakthrough is further

If the situation at the front determines the strength at the negotiating table, the prospects for Kiev and Western Europe are getting worse. Ukraine is under pressure, and a rift is looming at the top of the state. This can have serious consequences

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Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate
Ukrainian soldiers, Photo: Reuters
Ukrainian soldiers, Photo: Reuters

Ukraine's attempt to penetrate deep into the territories occupied by Russia with a counteroffensive has so far failed. It seems that a militarily important breakthrough to the Sea of ​​Azov and Crimea is very far away, and 21 months after Russia's attack on Ukraine, doubts and nervousness are spreading in Kiev, while Western aid is dwindling. Ukraine lacks weapons, ammunition, money, and in the foreseeable future, soldiers.

Will the Western strategy to militarily strengthen Ukraine so that it is able to return the occupied territories, or at least gain a strong position for negotiations, bear fruit?

"We have to prepare for the long haul," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said recently in Berlin. He added that the course of the war is not predictable, but "events around the negotiating table are inextricably linked to the situation on the battlefield." According to Stoltenberg, Russian President Vladimir Putin would have to understand that he cannot win on the battlefield.

The counteroffensive stalled

But Putin is far from defeated, regardless of the military bravado from the first months of the attack. After last year's successes at Kiev, Kharkiv and Kharson, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian forces Valery Zaluzhny told the "Economist" newspaper: "I need 300 tanks, 600 to 700 armored fighting vehicles, 500 howitzers. Then it is completely realistic to return to the lines of February 23."

And at the beginning of this month, he told the same newspaper: "Probably, a nice and deep breakthrough will not happen." Now we are talking about a trench, positional war, like in the First World War.

The Ukrainian penetrations became bogged down in dense minefields and under heavy Russian artillery fire. However, exactly on Ukrainian Independence Day (August 24), Zaluzhny announced that Ukraine had liberated the village of Robotno in the south of the country. From that moment there was hardly any movement of the front line. The strategically important city of Tokmak is 20 kilometers away, in Russian hands.

"The Sky Darkened"

Ukrainian soldiers are beginning to express their displeasure in the local media. The commander of the Ukrainian company trained in Germany, Mykola Meljnik, told the electronic portal "censor.net": "The whole plan of the big counter-offensive was based on a simple calculation: the Muscovites (Russians) see a Bradley or a Leopard and run away. And that's it.” His newly formed 47th Brigade was supposed to capture Robotino on the very first day of action. Instead, Ukrainian units needed two and a half months. To this day, the front line is not far from the ruins of the village.

On the first day of the battle, Malnjik lost his left leg when he stepped on a mine. "Every ten meters there was an explosion, then an explosion, an explosion. It darkened the sky. I've never seen something like that even in a movie," the thirty-eight-year-old describes the day he was wounded. He was a lawyer before the war, now he hopes to be able to walk again with the help of a prosthesis.

In eastern Ukraine, Russian troops are exerting strong pressure on Ukrainian positions. In the devastated industrial city of Avdiyivka, the Ukrainian army is in danger of being surrounded. In the Kharkiv area, the front came worryingly close to the town of Kupjansk.

The break-through penetration of Ukrainian units across the Dnieper in the Kherson region is indeed tying up Russian troops, but the Ukrainians are under constant Russian bombardment, in which the Russians also use insidious "sailing bombs", so Ukrainian losses are high.

Ukrainian President Zelensky now intends to build shelters and fortifications on all parts of the front.

Deliveries from the West are decreasing

And yet, German military expert and expert on Ukraine, Niko Lango, does not think that it is a stalemate, but believes that the situation is dynamic. "What we will witness depends on whether we continue to support Ukraine," he told the German news agency dpa. "Putin also has considerable military problems, and we need to help Ukraine more quickly to confront him, not to give him time to rest and reorganize and form." The problem would be bigger, longer-lasting and more expensive for us," says Lango.

According to the calculations of Ukrainian journalist Volodymyr Dazenko, the largest part of Western arms deliveries took place in January and February. Since then, deliveries have been decreasing. While Russia sends 200 new or modernized tanks to the front every month, on the Ukrainian side it is only 60. Kiev receives a twelfth of the Russian amount of artillery weapons. Russia receives grenades from South Korea and Iran, so the amount at its disposal is twice as large as in Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers complain about the increasing Russian supremacy in the number of reconnaissance and combat drones near the front. Russian jamming systems partially prevent the use of Western precision weapons. Ukraine's complete air defense depends on Western supplies.

It is even possible that the large number of killed and wounded Russian soldiers is not decisive. Western analysts believe that the Russian army lost 120.000 soldiers, while over 70.000 soldiers fell on the Ukrainian side. It seems that the Russian mobilization is significantly more effective.

On average, Ukrainian soldiers are already in the middle of their fourth decade, and in some units - in the middle of their fifth. General Zalužni demands the mobilization of young men between the ages of 18 and 27, but the government hesitates. Zelenski nevertheless promised to reform the law on mobilization, as a concession to the soldiers who have been fighting without a break for 21 months.

The German minister does not want to give forecasts

Dissatisfaction during the war produced tension in politics as well. The president refuses to publicly acknowledge the failure of the counteroffensive. After Zalužni's interview, Zelenski made it clear to him that this is not how it works and warned him not to develop political ambitions.

And last Wednesday, November 29, they asked the German Minister of Defense, Social Democrat Boris Pistorius, whether he also sees the situation in Ukraine as dangerous - as Zaluzhny said.

"Who am I to question the judgment of the leading general of the Ukrainian army?" We are indeed witnessing a war that has many characteristics of a war of attrition, a frontal war, which is simultaneously waged en masse as a hybrid war. And in another way, as we know". Pistorius said he would not allow himself to predict the outcome.

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