Currently, the Ukrainian army is solving the first of two tasks – defense. It is necessary to completely stop the offensive of the Russian occupying army, which, albeit slowly, still continues. Further, after careful preparation, the second stage will begin – the counteroffensive, the liberation of the occupied territories. At the same time, Ukrainian defenders cannot afford a “blank shot” [blunder].
To date, the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not yet have the forces and means necessary for this operation, but they are methodically accumulating. Already at the end of this week, before April 9, we can expect big changes at the front. Ukraine received strong support from the allies in the form of fighter aircraft just on the eve of the impending counteroffensive, and this is not a coincidence. This opinion was expressed in an exclusive interview with OBOZREVATEL by the former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Igor Romanenko.
– In an address on April 2, President Zelensky said that the current week would be very important for the future of our country. According to your estimates, can we expect serious events at the front? What is your forecast?
– I believe that the issue with the end of our strategic defensive operation in the east of our country can be resolved. What are its tasks? Stop the advance of the enemy. You can treat this differently, but at the very least, at the tactical level, but since the end of January the enemy has been advancing.
Another task is to destroy as much enemy manpower and equipment as possible. This task is carried out in full measure in all our directions in the east – Kupyansky, Bakhmutsky, Avdeevsky, Maryinsky and Ugledarsky. In view of the fact that the enemy’s forces will run out, he will be forced to go on the defensive.
This is very important from the point of view of a military professional assessment of the situation, because it is expedient and most rational to carry out large-scale counter-offensive actions at this very moment – when the enemy’s offensive forces have dried up and he begins to go on the defensive, but has not yet had time to create a strong defense, as he did. made in the Zaporozhye direction, around Melitopol, in the Crimea, in Lugansk and Donetsk, and so on.
If we have accumulated forces for a strategic reserve – and as Western experts say, this should be up to three combined arms corps of 20 thousand each with equipment and crews trained on this equipment and with the appropriate number of shells to ensure a vigorous counteroffensive – so, if by the end of the current weeks (until April 9. – Ed.) we will receive in the aggregate everything that I have said, of course, the forecast of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief will come true.
The conditions I have mentioned can be considered piecemeal. Fulfillment of the tasks of a defensive strategic operation in the east. We have completed the first stage of this operation in the north of our country, and we are carrying out the second stage now. During the operation in the east, we have already carried out two effective counter-offensive operations – in the Kharkov and Kherson directions.
There may be options depending on the availability of funds. But I want to pay attention to the decrease in enemy activity. Previously, they carried out about 150 attacks per day, now – about 50. Of course, in some areas this figure may differ slightly, for example, in the Kupyansky or Avdeevsky and Bakhmut direction. But I’m talking about a general assessment across the board.
– Did I understand you correctly – subject to all the conditions that you mentioned, by the end of this week the situation at the front may change, and this stage of the war can be called the very counter-offensive that has long been predicted?
– If we stop the advance of the enemy along the entire front, then this can be assessed as the fulfillment of the tasks of our defensive strategic operation. And then the second stage should begin – a counter-offensive defensive operation. It all depends on how much we will have formed the forces and means.
We see in open sources that a lot already exists. In particular, there were forecasts by the head of the Pentagon, Austin , that an offensive operation could be expected in 2-3 weeks. At the same time , General Milli declared that, no matter how effectively we attacked, we were unlikely to win a principled victory this year.
However, a week ago, our president told the Japanese media that we are not yet ready for counter-offensives. Not so much in terms of weather conditions, which we also need for an offensive, but in terms of accumulating material at the level of strategic reserves.
In this, I agree with the assessments of foreign experts – in order to be convincing and effective in a counteroffensive, up to three corps are needed. I doubt that we have already managed to prepare and collect all this. And it’s not just weapons and people. It is also necessary to prepare logistics, fuels and lubricants and, most importantly, ammunition.
We remember how at one time, due to a shortage of fuel and lubricants, the enemy in the north was forced to retreat. They could no longer move, they scattered, we finished them off, and so on. We don’t want to be in the same situation. We must prepare well. We should not have a blank shot [blunder].
– Prigozhin said that Bakhmut was “legally” taken. Can the words of the occupier be trusted?
– If legal categories were used in the war, the situation would be completely different. Even if some administrative building was seized, this does not mean that the area object, which is the city of Bakhmut, is generally occupied.
It is clear that Prigozhin, in spite of everything, needs to demonstrate the result, except for Soledar. He tried to compare Soledar with Stalingrad in order to show himself as a hero. But, in my opinion, this is far from the result.
The Ukrainian army continues to carry out a very important task of a strategic defensive operation in Bakhmut, namely, to destroy the enemy’s manpower and equipment and stop its advance. Perhaps in the near future, he will move on to defensive actions.
– Ukraine received MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland. The number is not reported…
– Why, even in open sources there are some estimates – this is at least two squadrons. There are 12 aircraft in the squadron, that is, at least 24. According to other estimates, this is an aviation regiment, that is, three squadrons, 36 aircraft. Of course, not everything needs to be announced, we have a hybrid war going on.
There is also a Slovak squadron. The same Croats helped us. Someone gives helicopters, someone planes.
– Can these fighters significantly help the Ukrainian army?
– At a minimum, such deliveries allow us to restore forces in certain areas that were lost as a result of hostilities. We fought for a whole year and suffered certain losses in weapons, equipment, including aircraft.
This is also important from the point of view that for the use of such aircraft, our pilots do not need to be trained for a long time. This is not the F-16, the preparation for which, even in the most accelerated version, takes several months, depending on the degree of professionalism of our pilot.
– You do not think that these planes could have arrived in Ukraine on the eve of the counteroffensive? Or are these things unrelated?
– I think they are. Because the use of aviation is very important for conducting counter-offensive operations. We need a lot of unmanned aircraft – of different types and capabilities, as well as manned ones. Because actions in the steppe expanses of the south of our country necessarily require air cover from the sky.
In addition, it is necessary to at least equalize the potentials. Unfortunately, Russia has more planes. They have the best air weapon capabilities. We need versatile aircraft that could be used to attack ground targets, since the enemy is fortified.
Here the question is: either we defeat these fortifications with artillery and missile systems, or with aviation, although the enemy will also use their air defense systems, fighters, attack aircraft, bombers.
Planes need to be received, prepared, deployed – even Soviet-style aviation. What can we say about 4+ generation NATO aviation, which makes it possible to use NATO aviation weapons. This is an increase in our aviation potential compared to the Russian one.
“In this, I agree with the assessments of foreign experts – in order to be convincing and effective in a counteroffensive, up to three corps are needed. I doubt that we have already managed to prepare and collect all this. And it’s not just weapons and people. It is also necessary to prepare logistics, fuels and lubricants and, most importantly, ammunition.”
I don’t know what sort of changes is supposed to come to the front in the coming days, but it’s not going to be the counteroffensive. Unless, this article is supposed to mislead any potential spies. We’ll see…