German newspaper: The way Russia used troops surprised many people

After more than a month of counter-attack, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are still stopping at exploratory offensive operations, finding weaknesses in Russia’s solid defenses.

Despite suffering many losses, Ukraine still has a large strategic reserve force to counterattack on a large scale. So what preparations has Moscow made to deal with major attacks as stated by President Volodymir Zelensky that “when it happens, everyone will know”?

Russia made mistakes, and Ukraine has a big victory

In any long war, the situation will always change rapidly. The key issue is the ability to adapt and change accordingly.

The Russian army from the beginning of the special military operation took the wrong approach by overestimating the independent combat capabilities of the assault units.

In February 2022, in less than a week, the Ukrainian army counterattacked quickly, recaptured many areas in Kharkiv province, pushed the enemy forces to the other side of the border, and took control of about 6,000 people. km2 of territory.

Ukrainian President Zelensky announced that by the end of September 12, 2022, Ukraine had regained about 6,000 square kilometers of territory. 

Commenting on Ukraine’s success, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a press conference in Mexico on September 12, 2022, said: “What Ukraine has done is the result of good planning and of course, Kyiv also benefits from the substantial support of the United States and many other countries, which have ensured that Ukraine will have at hand the necessary equipment for this counterattack.

However, in the current counter-offensive campaign, it seems that Ukraine is also making mistakes. Kiev was too successful in the counter-offensive at the end of 2022, but then they underestimated the combat capability of the Russian army, causing many soldiers to die, heavy losses in equipment and still struggling to find a way to change. change tactics.

After the failures, the Russian Ministry of Defense has made adjustments, and new tactics are effective.

Russia defensive depth

The Russian army has built a “surovikin battle map” with a solid defense line, a combination of solid fortifications, and very powerful multi-layered firepower.

Kyiv and its Western allies devised a “dream” counter-attack scenario of gaining access to the Sea of Azov, slicing Russia’s control zone in half, and isolating Crimea.

However, from the very first day of the counter-attack, Ukraine was faced with the benefits of this well-organized defense system, with significant losses.

The high level of damage caused President Zelensky at the end of June to explain why the counterattack did not go as planned.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on June 21: “The counterattack has been slower than expected. Some people think this is a Hollywood movie and expect an immediate result. But it is not”.

The reality of the battlefield is much more fierce than the Ukrainian President’s use of the word “slower than expected”, the mechanized brigades are trained and equipped by NATO, and for more than a month, the counter-attack has not achieved any success. any significant tactical target, not even reaching Russia’s first line of defense.

The deepest points in the gray zone of Ukraine are still more than 10km from the main Russian defense line.

According to RIA Novosti, open fields, small villages, and swathes of forest far from the main line are becoming barriers that prevent Ukraine from breaking through.

This result proved Moscow’s thorough preparation for the counter-attack scenarios of Ukraine.

The Surovikin line from the Black Sea (Kherson) to the Donetsk region has become a “maze” of points of fire, minefields, anti-tank trenches, and dragon-tooth obstacles that have been purposefully arranged by the Russian military to block enemy attacks. Ukraine’s head.

Ukraine’s intention when constantly organizing attacks was to find gaps in the defense system and then use elite mechanized units to drill through the lines and exploit the results.

Ukraine’s company and battalion-level attacks could not penetrate the fortified system of fortifications and had difficulty in the war of attrition in the gray area in front of the Russian defense lines, showing Moscow’s correct judgment.

German newspaper: The way Russia used troops surprised many people

In addition to a solid defense line, Moscow also has an almost absolute advantage in artillery fire and tactical air and prepares logistics and reserves for areas at risk of being penetrated by Ukraine. , develop a plan to deal with UAVs, and spread the electronic warfare shield across the defense line.

The German newspaper Bild wrote: “The Russians not only built a system of fortified trenches, creating huge minefields but also amassed enough ammunition to create a barrage of extremely high-intensity shelling to stop them. Ukraine’s counterattack in all directions. Ukrainian units have not yet reached the main Russian defense line. Their best attack direction is still more than 10km from that position.”

The most potential counter-attack directions are in Zaporizhia and South Donetsk, which is expected by Ukraine and the West to make a breakthrough thanks to its topography and numerical superiority, which has become a “meat mill”. The scenario of a quick counter-attack, quickly breaking through three Russian defense lines and over 100km to reach the Sea of ​​Azov has not come true.

The traditional approach of using breakthrough assault armored brigades, then exploiting the results with mechanized infantry similar to Ukraine’s “Blitzkrieg War” tactic was prevented by landmines and Russian firepower.

Ukraine’s most remarkable achievement was only the capture of a few uninhabited settlements in Zaporizhia and Vremevsky, at the cost of the lives of many soldiers and the destruction of hundreds of Western-aided combat vehicles. cancel.

The breakthrough direction at Bakhmut, after gaining the buffer zones, Ukraine also had difficulty touching the important settlements Berkhovka and Klihitvka.

“We are moving forward slowly, difficult because of the fierce resistance of Russia,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar admitted on her personal Telegram channel.

Ukraine’s damage quickly appeared on social media platforms. The images of Western armored vehicles being destroyed, mainly Leopard 2 and AMX-10C tanks as well as the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, made a strong impression and created skepticism about the ability to counterattack. of Ukraine.

According to figures published by Moscow, Ukraine has now lost about 20% of its forces participating in the counterattack after more than a month of fighting.

Specifically, Sputnik quoted the statement of Russian Defense Minister Shoigu on July 12, saying that since June 4, Ukraine has lost 26,000 soldiers and 3,000 units of various types of weapons.

Ukraine has gained control of a number of villages on the fringes of the front lines, however, to keep these settlements, they have to constantly send in additional forces and gradually consume them there.

The village of Pyatikhati on the Zaporizhia front is a clear example. This position changed hands many times and each time Ukraine entered it suffered heavy damage from Russian fire. Attacks often end in disaster when a safe passage cannot be created, are fired from all directions and when the number of troops is exhausted to the maximum, the unit is forced to retreat.

At the Liman and Kupyansk fronts, with the advantage of forces, Russia even actively organized counterattacks and won some areas.

Bild journalist Julian Röpke commented: “I was quite surprised by the use of Russian forces and many people did not expect it. Because everyone believes that they are under pressure in the South and will have to adjust. reserve forces go there, but no, they do the opposite and attack in the north.”

Difficulties in logistics and joint operations

Before considering the big counter-attack scenario, the current important issue of the Ukrainian army is training and the ability to cooperate with the combined forces.

Military expert Yevgeny Norin told the Lenta news agency that one of the weaknesses leading to great losses and ineffective counter-attacks by Ukraine is related to inadequate training in the West.

Due to the short training time, Ukrainian soldiers and commanders are not able to coordinate combat and tactics. The majority of Ukrainian units attacked the fortified Russian defenses, without looking for viable options and with fewer casualties.

“Having multiple weapons from different sources at the same time is not a good thing, but a real nightmare,” said expert Yevgeny Norin.

“Things can look impressive like a Leopard tank, a French AMX-10C wheeled tank, a self-propelled artillery piece from Poland… But in the end, it comes down to the logistical burden of having to maintain ammunition and capabilities. the combat readiness of the vehicle,” he said.

Any combat vehicle no matter how modern, the main thing is the ability to coordinate and control. In the current counter-attack conditions, Ukraine lacks everything, causing units to fight spontaneously and the ability to synergize is not high.

“I can give an example that the Bradley fighting vehicle can only exert 100% of its power if sitting in the vehicle is an American soldier with full support from logistics, intelligence, and battlefield command system on the front line. 2. In the absence of the above, Bradley is simply an American-made iron box. In my opinion, based on pure psychology, Ukraine has encountered the fact that they cannot identify who the opponent is, “experts commented.

Ukraine has not yet unleashed all its reserves on counter-attacks, but this caution seems to have made counter-attacks ineffective.

Even in the best case, if Russia’s weak point is found, the Ukrainian assaults are not powerful enough to develop deep, waiting for the reserve in the 2nd line to advance, then Russia can deploy reinforcements in time. , filling the hole.

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