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“Strategically it is very smart what Ukraine has done” & More Latest News Here

 

Ukrainian President Volodomir Zelensky was in the newly liberated city of Izyum on Wednesday. The president thanked soldiers for liberating the city. His army is making great advances in the northeast.Image AFP

The Ukrainian government claims to have recaptured more than 6000 square kilometers (roughly the area of ​​the provinces of Friesland and Groningen) in the Kharkov region from the Russians in a week’s time. Is victory near?

“It is much too early to say anything about that,” says Frans Osinga, former F16 pilot and professor of war studies at Leiden University. According to Osinga, it is certainly impressive what the Ukrainians are currently showing, but the battle is far from over. “Strategically, what they have done is very smart. The Russians have sent 20 to 30,000 soldiers to the Kherson region on the assumption that the Ukrainians would launch a major offensive in that region. That turned out to be a trap. The massive attack came precisely in the northeast, where the Russian defenses had been severely weakened by the massive departure to the south.”

“In the meantime, hundreds of villages and towns have been recaptured. If you look at the map, that’s quite an area. But don’t forget that the Russians still occupy a good part of the south, Crimea and 60 percent of the eastern Donbas. According to President Volodimir Zelensky, the victory consists in the complete return of those areas to Ukraine. Well, it is far from that yet.”

How will the situation on the battlefield develop further?

Osinga: “The Ukrainian army leadership must see how long they can continue with the offensive in the northeast. They now also seem to be advancing in the Luhansk region – in the Donbas. But there they will be able to count on stronger resistance as Putin has put a lot of effort into preserving the self-proclaimed pro-Russian people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. I suspect that Ukraine will soon start consolidating the liberated area. In terms of control and supply, that will be difficult enough, the Russians will continue to carry out smaller attacks from the northern or southern flank.”

“In the south, it will also be exciting around strategically important Kherson. This city is in the hands of the Russians, but the troops there are becoming increasingly isolated as the Ukrainians destroyed all important infrastructure, such as bridges around Kherson. The city is the gateway to the Crimean peninsula. So if it falls…”

Then?

“Then Putin has a huge problem. Crimea is a kind of crown jewel for him. The peninsula must and will remain in Russian hands. We see that the weapons from the West are quite effective and if the Ukrainians actually do attack Crimea, the Kremlin will pull out all the stops to defend the area. The point is that the Russian army has suffered enormous losses. In manpower and equipment. Putin has previously announced that it will recruit 137,000 additional troops for the operation in Ukraine. The question is where he gets them all from without mobilizing.”

What trump cards does Putin have?

“The Ukrainian successes increase the risk of escalation. You notice that the losses are recognized in Russian public opinion. The accusing fingers are pointing at Putin’s ministers and advisers, not at the president himself. It may be a strategy to give him carte blanche. Members of the Duma, the House of Representatives of Russia, are already saying that there is no longer a special operation, but a war. And in case of war, mobilization is necessary, is the thought.”

“The Kremlin does not want to do it so far, but Putin may soon have no other choice. In addition, it is realistic that there are serious threats from Moscow with the use of chemical or even nuclear weapons. Especially if the West continues to send heavy weaponry. That can be pure intimidation, but it can also seriously escalate. In any case, it is a very exciting period in the war. Ukraine cannot survive without Western weapons, while Russia is feeling the effects of almost seven months of struggle on all levels – military, economic and political.”

“Strategically it is very smart what Ukraine has done”
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