The general in charge of Kiev’s ground forces has claimed that the assaults so far have only been “probing” attacks
Colonel General Aleksandr Sirsky, who commands Ukraine’s ground troops, told The Guardian on Friday that his forces have yet to launch the most serious thrust of their ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces. However, with Ukrainian losses adding up, the consensus in Washington, Moscow, and Kiev, is that the offensive has not lived up to expectations.
“Everyone wants to achieve a great victory instantly and at once,” Sirsky told the British newspaper. “And so do we. But we have to be prepared to have this process take some time because there are a lot of forces massed on each side, a lot of materiel, and a lot of engineered obstacles.”
“Our main force has not been engaged in fighting yet, and we are now searching, probing for weak places in the enemy defenses,” he continued. “Everything is still ahead.”
Sirsky acknowledged that fighting on the Donetsk sector of the front is “difficult” and “stressful.” Russian forces have mounted offensive operations to “seize the initiative” in this area, Sirsky said, backing up earlier reports by Ukrainian officials.
Ukraine has assembled 12 brigades for its summer offensive, including nine armored brigades trained and equipped by NATO, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last month. A brigade is typically made up of anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 troops, and Russia claims that Ukraine has lost more than 13,000 since the counteroffensive began.
In the case of Ukraine’s best-equipped and best-trained brigade deployed so far, the 47th Mechanized Brigade, former US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter attributed the losses to overconfident assessments by NATO commanders and extensive preparation by Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Vladimr Zelensky has admitted that the progress of the counteroffensive has been “slower than desired,” while American and other Western officials have concluded that the Ukrainian military is “not meeting expectations on any front,” according to a CNN report on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the offensive’s failures on manpower constraints, and declared on Wednesday that “the enemy has no chance” of achieving victory on the battlefield.
Speaking on state television on Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that Kiev will launch as many offensives “as is needed to expel Russia from our territory.” To that end, the Ukrainian government has expanded its mobilization efforts in recent days, issuing blanket call-up notices to all draftees in at least two regions.
“Additional military hardware can certainly be delivered, but [Ukraine’s] mobilization reserve is not unlimited,” Putin commented on Thursday. “And it seems Ukraine’s Western allies are indeed prepared to wage the war to the last Ukrainian.”
June 23, 2023 at 07:45PM