Russian forces deceived by crushing Ukraine counteroffensive
Ukraine’s counteroffensive has exposed weaknesses in Russian defences and in five days seized more land than the Russian forces have captured in Ukraine since April, according to the Institute of the Study of War.
Russia appears to have diverted its best troops to defend Kherson in the south in response to a recent Ukrainian offensive, leaving the area southeast of Kharkiv in the north lightly defended.
And Ukraine amassed forces bolstered by the best US weapons in the north in the previous week, which appears to have been missed by Russian military intelligence.
US missiles reportedly destroyed Russian air defence radars, allowing Ukrainian aircraft to support the northern counteroffensive.
The Ukrainian military encircled Balakliia, almost 70km from Kharkiv, then the rail and logistics hub of Kupiansk and cut off Izium, another key military hub, which Russia seized in late March. The loss of the supply centres leaves Russia’s frontline troops lacking resupplies of ammunition and food.
Ukraine’s sudden attack appears to have been devised by Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who organised Kyiv’s defence after the February invasion.
Syrskyi said more cities would follow at a flag-raising ceremony, accompanied by the national anthem in the small city of Banakliia.
“I am sure that this is not the last city,” Syrskyi said in combat equipment.
“Ahead of us is Kupiansk, which is already half taken by our troops. Ahead of us is Izyium and many others.”
While the history of the conflict will be written with greater accuracy in the years to come, it appears Kyiv lured Russian troops to bolster the southern region of Kherson, near Crimea, by announcing a counteroffensive to recapture the city.
When the Russians amassed approximately 30,000 troops to defend Kherson, Ukraine’s US-supplied missiles destroyed bridges along the River Dnipro, leaving the Russians stranded to the west of the river. The Russian forces were therefore incapable of reinforcing Kharkiv to the north.
The failure of Russian forces to react to the build-up of tanks in the north will probably be debated in the future.
It has been reported that Kharkiv was being defended by “slave soldiers” forcibly conscripted and with little will to fight.
There are reports of Russian troops disguising themselves as civilians and Ukrainian forces concentrating on hunting down war criminals, rather than fighting.
There are reports of thousands of Russian prisoners of war.
The Guardian reported that an estimated 100,000 Russian soldiers, who are rarely rotated and have poor equipment, are covering the lengthy Ukraine front.
Ukrainian morale is high. Picture credit: YouTube