A good Twitter thread from military expert Mick Ryan on Russia’s 2023 offensives in Ukraine
“As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s 2022 invasion of #Ukraine approaches, the Russian Army has commenced the preliminary phase of its 2023 offensives.
Over the past week, Russia has conducted attacks at #Svatove, #Soledar, #Bakhmut, #Dvorichne, #Vuhledar and other locations. These are unlikely to be the main campaign that Russian military bloggers hoped for and that Ukrainian intelligence officials have warned about. Assuming there is a larger Russian campaign plan at work, these recent attacks are likely to have been probes and ‘reconnaissance in force’ missions to ascertain or test the Ukrainian strengths, dispositions and reactions.
Why is Russia beginning these offensive activities in Ukraine now? There are three reasons.
The first and most important is political. President Putin needs a victory. His forces over the past 12 months have suffered battlefield defeats in the North, South and East of Ukraine.
The strategic missile campaign to terrorise Ukrainians by targeting their power infrastructure has resulted in no political accommodations from Ukraine. Instead, it has resulted in increased Western assistance such as economic aid, munitions, tanks and air defence systems.
Putin needs offensives to take ground and generate momentum in Ukraine as well as in the global influence battle. And he has to demonstrate to the Russian people by the first anniversary of his invasion that progress is being made.
A second reason Russia has commenced the preliminary operations for their offensives is to disrupt future Ukrainian offensives. President #Zelenskyy, in multiple speeches, has outlined his intention to take back all Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia (including #Crimea). Therefore, to force the Ukrainians use their military to defend against Russian attacks instead of conducting their own offensives, the Russians will use their assaults in the coming weeks to spoil at least some of the Ukrainian 2023 offensives.
Finally, the Russian high command will want to ensure that Russian forces are in a better position to hold more defensible ground before the full effect of recent western donations of tanks, armoured vehicles and munitions can be brought to bear by the Ukrainians.
The large amount of western aid announced in January will soon begin arriving in Ukraine. It will take some time for new equipment to be fully absorbed into Ukrainian army formations. But, by the second quarter of 2023, Ukraine’s offensive potential will be much greater.
Despite their desire to regain the initiative, Russia’s offensive potential is questionable. There has been an influx of mobilised Russian troops, but their most important impact on this war is likely to have been the stabilisation of the Russian defensive line over winter.
Offensive operations are a different concern. These require well trained and equipped soldiers & top-notch leaders, as well as detailed planning and rehearsals at all levels. Tens of thousands of new, inexperienced soldiers in a depleted Russian Army will not provide this. Therefore, when the Russians commence their main offensive operations, they are unlikely to achieve a bold operational breakthrough where they penetrate deep into Ukrainian territory, destroying logistics, artillery and HQ and dislocating the Ukrainian defensive line.
The Battle of #Bakhmut and the recent catastrophic Russian attack at #Vuhledar demonstrate ongoing weakness in Russian offensive capacity and fighting power.
What we are more likely to witness in the coming weeks is a series of rolling Russian attacks across many parts of the eastern front. From #Svatove in the north to #Vuhledar in the south, Russian forces are likely to conduct battalion and brigade sized attacks.
Ukraine has been preparing for their own offensives for some time. With the arrival of new western equipment in the coming weeks, it should be ready to launch them soon.
Ukraine must balance defending its territory, and the attendant political & military considerations, with the preservation and capacity building of the Ukrainian army for their offensives to come. The coming weeks will be an interesting time for the Ukrainian high command.
Please note the opinions and analysis are those of the author alone. You can read the thread in full via the link below and we welcome your thoughts on it.
Ukraine will not attack when it does not have the right conditions which would promise any successes. If the cockroaches think they can harm the AFU’s combat capabilities with useless attacks, then let them think that. The opposite is true. The axiom of 3:1 loss-ration of attacker vs defender holds true, no matter how much the dumbass ruskie general staff try to ignore this reality. Only the AFU general staff knows what is best. And also maybe their Western military advisors.