The Russian Federation is in shock, and Ukraine needs weapons. The situation at the front

For six months, the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine has moved into a protracted stage. But Kyiv will not be able to launch a counteroffensive without the supply of weapons from the West.

Six months have passed since February 24, when Russia began large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Instead of a lightning-fast military operation that should have taken several days, the Russian armed forces are bogged down in a full-scale war in a neighboring country. According to Western military experts, since the beginning of May, Russian troops have advanced only 50 kilometers deep into Ukraine – and with serious losses. German and Russian experts shared with DW their assessments of the actions of the Russian and Ukrainian armies in the past six months, as well as what could affect the further course of the war.

The Russian army is in a “state of deep shock”

After six months of hostilities, the Russian army is “in a state of deep shock,” Professor Burkhard Meissner, a retired colonel at the Bundeswehr think tank GIDS, told DW.

The Russian army was unable to take control of the airspace of Ukraine, although the Russian Federation hoped that this would happen on the second day of the war. This army turned out to be unable to occupy Ukraine either in a lightning-fast or in a six-month military operation, although this was also expected from it, the expert notes. The Russian army has lost a large number of soldiers: the figures are from 20 to 40 thousand, and perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. It is known about units that have lost up to 80 percent of their personnel. The Russian army has problems with the recruitment of military personnel; tank losses are calculated in four-digit numbers.

But at the same time, she is undefeated. And from such a large army, such a large and powerful country like Russia, nothing else can be expected, says Meisner. However, the failure to achieve the set goals “undermined the Russian army’s self-confidence, and we see numerous attempts to restore the army to its lost pride – through the May 9 parade, the Army-2022 exhibition,” he said.

Armed Forces of Ukraine use the tactics of “corrosion”

Speaking about the Ukrainian army, Meisner notes that it purposefully and deliberately attacks the weak points of the logistics of the Russian army with the help of long-range artillery, and if there were more of this long-range artillery, it would attack even better. “For large-scale offensives, she needs significant tank forces.

Ukraine asked for such weapons and received them, but only in small quantities,” he said. According to the expert, the question of whether this war will move from the positional battles that are taking place in the east and south of the country, into a dynamic stage.

At the moment, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are using a kind of “corrosion” tactic to stop the ability of the Russian army to develop an offensive and occupy new territories. But to get out of a state of trench warfare, she needs mobile vehicles, but key European countries are behaving extremely restrained on this issue, Meisner points out. If their positions change, then the situation on the battlefield will probably change as well.

Unlike the Russian army, the Ukrainian one is conducting a successful defense, which many in the West did not expect from it, the expert says. According to him, the Ukrainians are not in a state of shock, although they have suffered heavy losses, they have a weak air force, and in terms of weapons and ammunition they cannot compare with the Russians.

Ukraine may not have enough strength to liberate territories

After six months of hostilities, “half of the Donetsk region is still not under Russian control,” Wolfgang Richter of the Berlin Science and Politics Foundation told DW. According to him, now the Russians are trying to make a breakthrough there in order to advance towards Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. But this progress is only meter by meter, as Ukraine stubbornly resists. In the southwest near Kherson, the situation appears to be one that the Ukrainian army is preparing to attack deep into Russian positions, destroying bridges, ammunition depots and airfields. “But such strikes alone will not change the situation; it is necessary to win back the territories, and for this the Ukrainians need to concentrate forces, which they may not have in such a form,” the expert says.

According to Richter, the Russian leadership had an incorrect initial calculation. They expected that the Ukrainian army would behave like in 2014, when only a few units were ready for combat operations, and part of the army and navy went over to the side of the enemy. This scenario may have led to incorrect conclusions, but it did not repeat itself. “The Ukrainian army is fighting with great cohesion and good tactical training. This miscalculation in the initial phase of the war led to the defeat of the Russian army near Kyiv,” he says.

In turn, Bundestag deputy, German Air Force officer Johannes Arlt points out that at the beginning of the war, Russian troops were left to their fate, and this had a huge impact on the morale and morale of the military. “We have repeatedly observed that the Russian units on the front line were not supplied, the delivery of fuel and the provision of troops with food and even sanitary equipment did not work at all,” he says. According to the German officer, the situation at the front may change by winter, when the ground freezes, which will make it possible to attack on a wide front. “Much will depend on whether Ukraine succeeds in breaking down Russian firepower, including with the support of Western weapons systems,” Arlt said.

CIT expert to the West: No need to be ashamed of old weapons

A sharp increase in the supply of armored vehicles to Ukraine could seriously affect the situation at the front, Ruslan Leviev, a journalist and founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), told DW in turn. According to him, there are many old models of such equipment, which are stored in warehouses in Western countries. If it is now given to Ukraine, then a Ukrainian counteroffensive may begin.

“We are trying to reach out to Western countries through the press and the public: you have old models of weapons, both Western and Soviet. They are old, but there is no need to be ashamed of it. It is now very needed in the war, so we need to urgently supply it to Ukraine,” Leviev said. The HIMARS MLRS installations made their contribution: Russia had to move its warehouses away from the front line. There were problems with crossings across the Dnieper, in particular, the Antonovsky bridge and the bridge over the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station due to their damage by the shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But nevertheless, there are not enough conventional armored vehicles for all the mobilized Ukrainians, and without it the Ukrainian counteroffensive will not begin.

The war has entered a protracted stage, the CIT founder describes the current situation. According to him, neither side now has the strength for a large-scale breakthrough. The Russian side has an emerging third army corps, which they promised to start sending to the front the other day, but so far this has not happened. But even this third army corps eventually suffers from shortages in manning, like the entire Russian army. In addition, the volunteers gathered in it, who were still at the training ground in Mulino in the Nizhny Novgorod region, were not actually trained.

Russia’s mistakes

Leviev divided the last six months of the war into several stages. “The first is when Russia sent troops to Ukraine in many directions,” although the soldiers gathered at the Ukrainian borders were not enough for this, the head of CIT says. This stage was marked by a large number of mistakes of the military command, large losses of tanks, armored vehicles and aircraft, it is characterized by forced marches, during which many personnel were lost. He failed.

The second stage began when Russia realized that it would not be possible to take Kyiv and decided to concentrate its forces on the Donbass. The Russians were able to capture the entire Luhansk region, but “in the Donetsk region, our team has serious doubts that it will be possible to capture it at all,” says Leviev. Russia also failed to achieve the desired success at this stage.

The next stage can be considered the last plan, which was voiced by the pro-Russian side: the intention to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions to Russia. Various Russian state structures were deployed in the occupied territories – the tax department, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Investigative Committee. Apparently, they were preparing for the fact that by September 11 the entire Donetsk region would be seized, referendums would be held, these territories would be annexed to Russia, says Leviev. In his opinion, “at that moment, Russia could conditionally put the war on pause, fix the status quo and replenish its resources.” This plan also failed.

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