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Friday, June 21, 2024

Ukraine: Russia is able to attack Kharkov. This is Ukraine's key mistake

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Interia cooperates with leading editorial offices in the world. Every Friday, as part of the “Interia Closer to the World” series, we publish the most interesting texts from opinion-forming foreign newspapers. The Washington Post, founded in 1877, from which the article below comes, is the oldest newspaper in the USA. Its journalists have won the Pulitzer Prize 47 times.

In war you should always expect the unexpected. Ukrainian forces were preparing for a spring or summer Russian offensive that would focus on the region Donbass in the eastern one Ukraine and be a consequence of February's success Russia after seizure Listen to me. Although this attack may still take place, in the meantime Russian troops launched a surprise cross-border attack in Kharkiv Oblast in the north-eastern part of the country.

The Russians attack the Kharkov region

About five Russian battalions managed to advance almost eight kilometers into Ukraine in just a few days, capturing several villages along the way and shaking the foundations of the Ukrainian defense.

It was probably the fastest Russian advance since the beginning of the wari.e. from February 2022.

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On Monday, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Gen. Kyryło Budanow in a comment for the New York Times, he said that the situation was “on the brink” and heading toward “critical.” If the Russians push further, they may be able to get their artillery back into range Kharkov – the second largest city in Ukraine.

I visited Kharkov in March and saw the destruction that Russian artillery wreaked there in 2022; the scars are still visible on many of the abandoned skyscrapers on the outskirts of the city. It would be a tragedy if these attacks were repeated. However, the worst-case scenario is the fall of Kharkov. It's still unlikely, but to save the city, Ukraine must withdraw troops from Donbas, making it easier for the Russians to advance in the region.

Mistakes of Ukraine and the USA

Why are the Russians having such sudden success these days? The answer is a combination of Russian military prowess and Ukraine's mistakes United States.

Russian forces have improved their combat capabilities since the beginning of the war, when they seemed to be completely unable to cope. They adapt to battlefield conditions – for example, using off-road motorcycles to quickly approach Ukrainian lines, rather than relying on lumbering tanks and armored vehicles that can be easily shot down by Ukrainian drones or artillery.

More importantly, to pulverize Ukrainian defenses, they also use glide bombs en masse, while their own electronic warfare systems jam Ukrainian drones and missiles.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian armed forces operations have been severely hampered by long approval delays American support package.

The Ukrainian soldiers stayed Outgunned by artillery ammunition by a factor of 10, their ammunition for anti-aircraft defense systems was also running out at an alarming rate. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Ukraine has intercepted about 46% of Russian missiles over the past six months, compared with 73% in the previous six months… The interception rate dropped to 30% last month.”

Ukraine's inability to provide adequate air defense to its frontline troops meant that Russia was able to make significant use of its air power for the first time.

Late aid package

After Congress USA approved a $61 billion aid package, U.S. weapons and ammunition are finally flowing into the country, but it will take months to adequately supply all Ukrainian forces. This creates a loophole that the Russians are diligently exploiting.

Moscow can also take advantage of limitations Washingtonprohibiting the use of any American weapons to attack military targets on Russian territory.

Institute for the Study of War He blames the recent Russian advances “largely” on the above-mentioned restrictions, which prevent the Ukrainians from striking Russian troops massing just a few kilometers away. Great Britain has lifted similar obstacles to the use of weapons, but the United States' pointless restrictions remain in place.

Russian advances in Kharkov/AFP

Shortages in the Ukrainian army

Unfortunately, the Ukrainian government also inadvertently enabled the Russians to advance by developing their armed forces too slowly fortifications. While Russia has significantly increased the number of its troops in and around Ukraine – to almost 500,000. – Ukraine still has only about 200,000. soldiers at the front. Additionally, many Ukrainian units, which had been fighting non-stop for over two years, were seriously exhausted.

Shortage in the Ukrainian army has been obvious for a long time, but only last month Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine she finally accepted new law on mobilization. Ukraine now plans to create 10 additional brigades, but recruiting, training and arming will take months – which Kiev does not have.

Ukraine: Apartments instead of barbed wire fences

Ukraine was also outrageously slow in strengthening its position borders and front lines. Last year's counteroffensive stalled because Russian minefields, trenches and barriers proved impregnable. In turn, the lack of appropriate fortifications currently allows Russia to advance.

– There was no first line of defense – one of the Ukrainian officers in the Kharkiv region complained to the BBC. – The Russians… just entered, without any mined fields – he added.

W marcu president of Ukrainy Volodymyr Zelensky finally announced the construction of 2,000 km of fortifications on three defense lines. These lines should have been ready many months ago. The delay reflects Zelensky's failure to do more to mobilize the Ukrainian public for war.

Construction is underway in Kiev and western Ukraine luxury apartment buildings, even though the country is currently fighting for survival. Everyone available construction workers together with all their equipment, they should have been sent to build fortifications long ago.

The good news is that Ukraine should still have time to recover from these stumbles. Building new fortifications and mobilizing more troops, combined with a massive influx of American weapons and ammunition, could stem the Russian attack and stabilize the front lines. It would also help a lot if the president Joe Biden lifted restrictions on the use of American weapons to attack military targets in Russia. However, the situation is much more serious than it should be, in part because of predictable mistakes – both on the part of Kiev and Washington.

Article translated from “The Washington Post”.

Translation: Nina Nowakowska

The title, subheadings and abbreviations come from the editors.

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