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Ukraine counteroffensive against Russia slower by design

Jul 17, 2023

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The Crimean Bridge in Kerch was attacked again early Monday morning of July 17. Several sections of the structure were destroyed, marking the latest victory for Ukraine’s revamped counteroffensive strategy.

When Ukraine first launched its summer counteroffensive in June, it quickly lost an estimated 20% of its Western-supplied armored vehicles. Some losses were expected, but not in such high numbers.

Russia had months to prepare its defensive positions. In some areas along the frontlines, Russia’s defenses are miles deep. Minefields pose the biggest danger, and without proper air support, the Ukrainians can’t clear them. The onslaught of Russian artillery keeps what few mine-clearing vehicles Ukraine has mostly at bay.

So, instead of relying solely on attacking Russian defenses head on, Ukraine is attacking the supply lines that feed Russia’s military. Longer-range weapons like the Storm Shadow missiles are making it easier for Ukraine to carry-out those attacks.

“We inflict effective, painful and precise blows and bleed the occupier,” Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense said. “The lack of ammunition and fuel will sooner or later become fatal.

Which brings up Crimea.

The Crimean Peninsula is in southern Ukraine. There are three routes in from the north. They pass through swampy areas and are vulnerable to attack from both Ukrainian troops and pro-Ukrainian Russians fighting against Moscow.

The Crimean Bridge in Kerch, on the eastern side, is the only direct link to Russia from the peninsula. It’s the primary supply route for Russian troops in southern Ukraine. So, if that route is cut, Russia could run out of both troops and equipment in the south, making the continued occupation of Crimea untenable.

The attack on the bridge in Kerch fits perfectly with Ukraine’s new strategy.

“I would describe it as a policy of starve, stretch and strike,” Admiral Tony Radikin, the U.K.’s chief of defense, said to a British parliamentary committee earlier this month. The first goal for Ukraine, according to Radikin, is to starve Russian units of supplies and reinforcements by attacking logistic and command centers in the rear.

Ukraine is stretching the Russians by coordinating its counteroffensive attacks across three primary axes. In addition to defending the hundreds of miles of frontline, Russia needs to reposition its forces to offset Ukrainian attacks, which is happening.

The Kyiv Post reported Serhiy Cherevaty, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Eastern Military Command, said Russia was trying to counterattack in the Bakhmut sector and was bringing in reserve forces.

This is what Ukraine wants. The longer Ukraine can bleed Russian forces like it did during the months long Battle of Bakhmut, when the time comes to strike the thinking is Russian forces won’t have the weapons, or the will, to stage an effective defense.

While the pace of Ukraine’s counteroffensive is at a slow grind, there have been notable gains. In the last six weeks, Ukraine said its armed forces liberated around 210 square kilometers, including at least eight villages. That’s roughly the same amount of land Russia said it seized from Ukraine in the previous six months of the war.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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THE CRIMEAN BRIDGE IN KERCH WAS ATTACKED AGAIN EARLY MONDAY MORNING. SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE STRUCTURE WERE DESTROYED, MARKING THE LATEST VICTORY FOR UKRAINE’S REVAMPED COUNTEROFFENSIVE STRATEGY.

WHEN UKRAINE FIRST LAUNCHED ITS SUMMER COUNTEROFFENSIVE IN JUNE, IT QUICKLY LOST AN ESTIMATED 20% OF ITS WESTERN-SUPPLIED ARMORED VEHICLES. SOME LOSSES WERE EXPECTED, BUT NOT IN SUCH HIGH NUMBERS.

RUSSIA HAD MONTHS TO PREPARE ITS DEFENSIVE POSITIONS. IN SOME AREAS ALONG THE FRONTLINES, RUSSIA’S DEFENSES ARE MILES DEEP. MINEFIELDS POSE THE BIGGEST DANGER, AND WITHOUT PROPER AIR SUPPORT, THE UKRAINIANS CAN’T CLEAR THEM. THE ONSLAUGHT OF RUSSIAN ARTILLERY KEEPS WHAT FEW MINE-CLEARING VEHICLES UKRAINE HAS MOSTLY AT BAY.

SO, INSTEAD OF RELYING SOLELY ON ATTACKING RUSSIAN DEFENSES HEAD ON, UKRAINE IS ATTACKING THE SUPPLY LINES THAT FEED RUSSIA’S MILITARY. LONGER-RANGE WEAPONS LIKE THE STORM SHADOW MISSILES ARE MAKING IT EASIER FOR UKRAINE TO CARRY-OUT THOSE ATTACKS.

WHICH BRINGS US TO CRIMEA.

THE CRIMEAN PENINSULA IS IN SOUTHERN UKRAINE. THERE ARE THREE ROUTES IN FROM THE NORTH. THEY PASS THROUGH SWAMPY AREAS AND ARE VULNERABLE TO ATTACK FROM BOTH UKRAINIAN TROOPS AND PRO-UKRAINIAN RUSSIANS FIGHTING AGAINST MOSCOW.

THE CRIMEAN BRIDGE IN KERCH, ON THE EASTERN SIDE, IS THE ONLY DIRECT LINK TO RUSSIA FROM THE PENINSULA. IT’S THE PRIMARY SUPPLY ROUTE FOR RUSSIAN TROOPS IN SOUTHERN UKRAINE. SO, IF THAT ROUTE IS CUT, RUSSIA COULD RUN OUT OF BOTH TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT IN THE SOUTH, MAKING THE CONTINUED OCCUPATION OF CRIMEA UNTENABLE.

THE ATTACK ON THE BRIDGE IN KERCH IS PART OF UKRAINE’S STRATEGY TO STARVE, STRETCH AND STRIKE AS THE UK’S CHIEF OF DEFENSE DESCRIBED IT. ATTACKING RUSSIAN LOGISTICS AND COMMAND CENTERS STARVES THE TROOPS IN THE FIELD OF RESOURCES AND INTEL.

UKRAINE IS STRETCHING THE RUSSIANS BY COORDINATING ITS ATTACKS IN SEVERAL AREAS ALONG THE HUNDREDS OF MILES OF FRONTLINES, WHICH IS NOW FORCING RUSSIA TO BRING UP SOME OF ITS RESERVE FORCES TO REINFORCE THE LINES. THIS IS WHAT UKRAINE WANTS, BECAUSE THE LONGER IT CAN BLEED RUSSIAN FORCES LIKE IT DID IN BAKHMUT WHEN THE TIME COMES TO STRIKE, THE THINKING IS RUSSIAN FORCES WON’T HAVE THE WEAPONS, OR THE WILL, TO STAGE AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSE.

FOR MORE UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ON THE WAR IN UKRAINE, GO TO SAN.COM.

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