post discussion Expresses the opinion of the writer.
Ukrainians have always been very disciplined about the information they released. So when twitter over the past few days is overflowing with Photos and videos with huge collections of Ukrainian armored vehiclesObviously, there is an element of psychological warfare.
The front remained stagnant throughout the past week, with the exception of Bakhmut, where the Russians approached the city from several directions and are now residing in neighborhoods east of the city.
Wagner’s flag was hoisted over an office building and Ukraine held a building inside Bakhmut-Bhimars, where there might have been a large concentration of Russian forces.
Ukraine has used HIMARS, artillery and drone strikes against several targets behind enemy lines recently. Along the entire front line, especially on the Karim Peninsula.
It could also be a sign of an approaching attack.
There are three main factors that determine when the Ukrainian attack will take place:
- When the Ukrainians themselves feel ready
- When the Russians “reached their peak”
- When the weather makes the ground so hard that it supports the reservoir
In addition, Easter is a very important holiday for Ukrainians. The vast majority of Ukrainians are Orthodox who follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Easter next week.
Right attack climate
Let’s start with the last one first. It is important for the earth to dry out because the clay season is a very bad period for making an attack. Just ask the Russians who were struggling in the mud this time last year.
It is a very bad idea to launch a mechanized attack as tanks can only drive on paved roads. Then they become vulnerable to ambush attacks.
Although it has been raining steadily in Ukraine lately, temperatures in both the south and the north have been warming recently. It will be between 10 and 20 degrees every day for the next week along the entire front.
This means that the mud season is coming to an end.
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Have the Russians peaked?
The other factor is whether or not the Russians have peaked.
Just because power is at its peak does not mean it is collapsing. This meant that she had exhausted her attack power and no longer had the opportunity to attack further.
It’s hard to say when this will happen, especially since the Russians don’t seem to have any special requirements for equipment, training, or a coherent plan before attacking.
However, the loss figures for the Russians appear to have fallen from just under 1,000 per day a week ago, to just under 500 per day in the past few days.
This is a sign that the Russians are sending fewer forces to attack. The forces the Russians had recently attacked were light infantry with very little support. And it seems that they made a very short journey from the mobilization office to the front.
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Since Russia is attacking with forces that have little training and equipment, it is “easy” to replace them. As long as they could rally more people, they would be able to sustain the attacks despite the heavy losses. Therefore, the Russians will not fully peak.
The loss of equipment was massive and it was probably now so weak that it wouldn’t make much difference to wait another month.
Perhaps the weakening of Russia’s combat capability is now so great that the time has come for a counterattack.
Ukrainian force mobilization
The last factor affecting the timing of the attack is the strength of the Ukrainians.
During March, new Western equipment poured into Ukraine. The Leopard II and Challenger II tanks have arrived. The same has large numbers of Bradley and Mader assault armored vehicles and possibly also the CV90.
This is equipment that provides Ukraine with a significantly increased effect.
It seems that the latest arms shipments from the United States also contain the things you need most in the assault – rifle ammunition, artillery shells, anti-tank missiles, first aid kits, etc.
Ukrainians take logistics very seriously. Logistics now run large spreadsheets for different scenarios as they calculate how much ammunition, food, fuel, water and everything else they need, in order to maintain combat capability while the front is moving.
They also calculate how many trucks they need to move this and different scenarios of where the front will move and how fast it will move.
They must have a plan for all possible outcomes.
In the Kharkiv pre-Christmas offensive, the Ukrainians captured far more territory in less time than they could have imagined. This led to significant logistical challenges. They want to avoid that this time.
If the Russian front collapses, then in no case should it be the logistics that prevent the Ukrainians from taking advantage of the situation.
Joint training of the great forces
The Ukrainians had significant forces along the entire front to contain the Russian offensive that has been going on for the past few months. But we saw little of the Ukrainian heavy weapons in this period. This is because the lion’s share of Ukrainian forces are conducting large-scale maneuvers in preparation for their own offensive.
The reason is that they conduct war in the same way as we do in NATO, any form of war that requires severe organization on a completely different level than what the Russians conduct.
The Ukrainians have conducted “combined weapons training”, which, in a nutshell, is the ability to use several departments, branches of arms and types of weapons together. The ability to gather large forces in one place and use them as a coherent unit and the ability to use several types of weapons together significantly increases the power of the strike.
The Russian invasion last February is a good example of how not to do that.
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When the Russians invaded they had a “heavy armour” doctrine. This meant that they had few infantry (infantry) relative to the number of tanks and armored vehicles. The Russian tanks attacked without infantry support and were thus easy prey for the small Ukrainian forces lying in ambush with Javelin missiles.
Had the Russians had infantry and perhaps even helicopter support when they attacked, it would have been dangerous for the Ukrainian forces to attack tanks. The Russians were less vulnerable.
The lesson of the Battle of Kiev is not that the tank is outdated and irrelevant on the battlefield. The lesson is that using tanks incorrectly is no big deal.
We can see that especially in the latest Russian offensive where they did the exact opposite. They attacked with only light infantry with almost no mechanical support. Light infantry alone and without support is extremely weak and ineffective.
Had the Russians combined the two strategies and put in some training and preparation, the chances of success would have increased.
Ready for tank war
The tank’s usefulness on the battlefield will likely become apparent when Ukraine launches its offensive. The British Challenger II tank is the heaviest in NATO. Ukraine received 24 of them. They have become assigned to the Airborne Regiment.
There was some discussion on social media that it was strange that the airborne regiment, which tends to have lighter and faster vehicles, got the heaviest tank in NATO. Maybe that’s because they don’t get airborne in the same way as our paratroopers who love jumping out of planes behind enemy lines.
The Ukraine Airborne Regiment can best be described as an elite regiment, which is often provided with the best equipment. They already have Ukrainian-made T-80s, which are the best non-Western tanks they have.
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This indicates that this is the regiment that will attempt to break through the Russian lines when the attack begins. Challenger tanks are heavily armored and can take a great deal of beating. It is therefore well suited to be the tip of the spear that will pierce. They will be supported by artillery, infantry and armored personnel carriers.
If the Ukrainians were broken through, they would have significant forces in reserve that could reinforce the breakthrough.
The Ukrainian Army now has between 50 and 100 Western Challenger II and Leopard II tanks. They may also have received some Leopard I tanks, but this has not been confirmed. In addition, they received large quantities of armored personnel carriers.
Perhaps most importantly, they received several thousand light infantry vehicles, which provided some protection for the troops carrying them and could carry heavier weapons to support the troops.
Assemble attack power
Offensive operations revolve largely around gathering force. Gathering in one place a sufficient fighting force to provide a local superiority so great that it makes it possible to break through a prepared defensive line.
It may seem quite obvious, but gathering and coordinating large forces is organizationally demanding. Those who have participated in NATO exercises know how difficult it can be to coordinate two teams to patrol the same area. Imagine what it takes to coordinate several brigades in an operation.
This was an important part of the training that NATO partners carried out in the period between the invasion in 2014 and the all-out war that began in February last year. They began training in coordinating operations between the forces.
Due to their proficiency and building competency, they have raised the level of coordinated training to company level, battalion level and then to brigade level which they reach in 2022. The ability to carry out such large and demanding operations is a unique trait in Western military organizations.
For many reasons, the Russians are not capable at all.
In Soviet times, they boasted of carrying out exercises with whole teams in the attack. But given the gap between claimed capability and real capacity in today’s Russian military, we can treat Soviet claims with caution.
The Russians struggle to build a force with fighting capacity for a number of reasons. The simplest is that they are simply institutionally bad at logistics and organization in the Russian Armed Forces.
In addition, unlike the West, they have a very hierarchical organization. All military organizations are hierarchical, but in the West, all levels of the organization know what is the goal and what is the intent of the leadership. This is important because if something unexpected happens, you can make local decisions and act as far as possible to achieve what management wants to achieve.
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This is not how it works in Russia. Direct orders are given without context and no one does more or less than what is stated in the order.
So if a supply section is ordered to deliver cannonballs to Point A, it does so regardless of whether the section that needs cannonballs is still there. This makes the logistics work very difficult.
This approach also requires management to be physically present and to point and give orders. It also proved difficult for the Russians.
This will be crucial
Ukrainian intelligence works so well that when Russian generals approach the front, they tend to be met by HIMARS. So you have great concentrations of forces.
On the other hand, the Russians are simply struggling to collect both troops and officers, because both parts are subject to artillery attacks.
So despite the fact that Ukraine has received some of the best military equipment available, perhaps the biggest difference between the forces is that the Ukrainians are able to mass forces and carry out a coordinated attack, while the Russians cannot.
It will be crucial in the next attack.
Ukraine has great chances of success and liberation of more territory in the next offensive. The big question is how strong the defense of the Russian forces will be.
Will they be able to limit Ukraine’s advance, or will the front collapse?
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