Military Turning Point in the Ukrainian war, in May 2023
War theater features
- collapse of Bakhmut and its ramifications
- impacts of massive Russian bombing campaigns (April-May)
Context of great power competition
- division of the world into two camps is becoming clearer
In this article I focus on emerging features on the war theater, once again, due to acute situation but will analyze that larger picture in the near future.
Wrap-up of Bakhmut/Artyomovsk case
On May 20, 2023, the city of Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) in the Donetsk region was completely taken over by Russian troops. “Bakhmut has fallen – Artyomovsk is rising”. In the beginning of the Russian offensive in February 2022, the city had a population of about 70,000. It was home to several industrial facilities including a sparkling wine factory where battles took place in early 2023.
This was announced by the founder of PMC “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin, who gave the details of what happened in the Donbass in a video message. The operation to capture Bakhmut, the Bakhmut meat grinder, lasted 224 days. It began on October 8, 2022.
Prigozhin thanked the Russian people for their support, the dead military and those who are in the ranks or will come to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Wagner PMC in time. He expressed special gratitude to Generals Sergei Surovikin and Mikhail Mizintsev, who helped them to carry out this operation. And thanks to Vladimir Putin for giving us this opportunity and the high honor to defend our Motherland.
Summing up, Prigozhin indicated that on May 25, the Wagner PMC detachments would be withdrawn from Artyomovsk to the rear, for rest and replenishment. The positions occupied will be handed over to the RF Armed Forces.
The Russian Defence Ministry reported, May 21, accordingly, referring to the city by its Russian name Artyomovsk: “In the Artyomovsk tactical direction, the assault teams of the Wagner private military company with the support of artillery and aviation of the southern battlegroup have completed the liberation of the city of Artyomovsk.”
For Kiev, which in May 2022 suffered a defeat at Azovstal that helped undermine its image, Bakhmut/Artyomovsk became the new Mariupol. Ukrainian propaganda labeled it “the Bakhmut Fortress” and Zelensky’s clinging to this notion led to the wrong tactic. Russian troops accepted the challenge posed by Ukrainian propaganda and started the nine-month-long “Bakhmut meat grinder”. First battles in the vicinity of the city began in the summer of 2022. A large-scale battle for Bakhmut /Artemovsk unfolded in October. The Russian flag was raised on the roof of the city administration on April 2, 2023. The fighting for the city lasted for 224 days.
Chain of events shortly – Bakhmut/Artyomovsk
The importance of the city grew tremendously after the start of Russia’s military operation in February 2022. Initially, when Russian troops broke the first line of fortifications in the area of Popasnaya, Zolotoye, and the Lisichansk-Severodonetsk agglomeration, Artyomovsk was an important transport hub.
After the Russians managed to break this line of defense and completely removed Kiev’s forces from the territory of the Lugansk, Artyomovsk went from being a transport hub to becoming Ukraine’s second line of defense around the Bakhmutka River. Artyomovsk could not have been taken without this line of defense being broken. Since July 2022, PMC Wagner fighters have been focused on doing just that, preparing the ground for a successful encirclement of the city.
By December 2022, Russian troops had reached the southern outskirts of Artyomovsk and blocked them. AFU was fully engaged in the battle for Bakhmut, which the media turned into a symbol of the Ukrainian army, much like the battles for Mariupol and Azovstal. Ukrainians made up a legend about the ‘Bakhmut Fortress’ and were not ready to surrender it. In fact, they constantly sent reinforcements to the city.
The advance of the Russians in the south endangered the road between Konstantinovka and Artyomovsk, and in the north the fall of Soledar, January 2023, meant that the city would be soon encircled. As the events unfolded in January, the Ukrainian army could still safely flee the city. The US reportedly suggested such a strategy but Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky apparently preferred to fight to the end.
The victory in Soledar allowed Russia to double the pressure on Artyomovsk. In order to prevent the Russians from breaking through the front, the Ukrainians brought more reserves in. However, this helped only partially.
Battle in the city
Throughout February, the Ukrainians tried to contain the Russian offensive on the Konstantinovka-Artyomovsk road. Ukraine moved reserves to the area, which allowed these positions to be held and forcing the Russians to take action from the north. Failing to capture Krasnoye, the Russians moved to the western outskirts of Artyomovsk.
In March, with more Ukrainian reserves were brought in. By March 8, the entire eastern part of the city was controlled by Russian troops and the Ukrainians had been pushed to the western bank of the Bakhmutka River. Wagner Group advanced deeper into the southwestern outskirts of Artyomovsk. At the same time, Russian troops made progress in the southern part of the city and established control over the districts of Budenovka and Sobachevka on March 29. As the Wagner Group advanced, the narrative in the Western media swiftly changed – whereas earlier Bakhmut had been called a strategically important point, the Pentagon chief announced that the city had more symbolic than strategic value.
In April, PMC Wagner launched a large-scale offensive in the central part of the city, making use of positions in the north and south. The ruined city administration building had come under the control of Russian troops by April 2. The Artyomovsk Metal Processing Plant (AZOM) was fully taken over by Russian troops on April 4. The railway near the Bakhmut-2 train station served as the line of defense for AFU troops. On April 22, despite serious resistance from the Ukrainians and a number of counterattacks, the vital locations were seized by the Russians.
Russian forces were able to take control of the industrial college complex and reach the intersection of Tchaikovsky and Yubileynaya Streets only on April 28. The defense of Artyomovsk then practically split into two parts. Ukrainian forces started blowing up high-rise buildings near the area of the aircraft monument. The Ukrainian reserves suffered considerable losses during clashes with Wagner fighters. Some of their well-known officers were killed by Russian artillery.
During most of April, the Russians attempted to reach Ukraine’s last fortified area – a district of high-rise buildings in the west of the city and the Cherema and Novy districts. At the same time, fighting intensified near the road between Chasov Yar and Artyomovsk. This road was regularly attacked by Russian troops, but they did not have direct control over it. The capture of the heaviest fortified area of the city was the final chapter
In early May, the advance of Wagner troops averaged about 150-200 meters per day and the only thing that could conceivably save the Ukrainian garrison was an attempt to break the siege from the outside.
On May 10, Ukrainian forces launched an offensive from Chasov Yar in two directions – south towards Kleshcheyevka and north in the direction of the Berkhovskoye reservoir. By that time, the extra troops of the Russian Armed Forces were sent to reinforce the flanks around Artyomovsk and they had taken up defensive positions in these areas. To mount an effective defense, Russian troops transformed their advance positions into a forward defensive line, withdrawing after the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
At that time Wagner units launched their final offensive against the three remaining fortified areas in the west of the city: Gnezdo, Konstruktor, and Domino. Following a fierce battle, they managed to gain control over all three, with Domino being the last to fall on May 18.
From then on, the Ukrainians only had control over the low-rise residential area and a handful of high-rise buildings in the Samolet stronghold along the road to Krasnoye. The Russians effectively won the race against time and gained control of Artyomovsk before the Ukrainians could break through the Russian flanks.
On May 20, Ukrainian forces lost their remaining fortified positions in the city. Wagner soldiers drove them out of the Samolet stronghold, celebrating victory and announcing the end of the “Bakhmut meat grinder”.
Outcome and conclusions of collapse Bakhmut/Artyomovsk
According to Prigozhin, the importance of the battle for Artyomovsk lies in the fact that it allowed Russia to grind down Ukrainian reserves – forcing Kiev to focus on Artyomovsk – and to disrupt Ukraine’s offensive in other parts of the front, specifically in the direction of Melitopol.
“On October 8, 2022, together with Army General Sergey Surovikin, it was decided to launch Operation ‘Bakhmut meat grinder’ – an assault on the village of Bakhmut in order to provoke Vladimir Zelensky to throw in as many forces as possible to hold Bakhmut. In Bakhmut, we grinded the Ukrainian forces, hence the name – ‘Bakhmut meat grinder,’” Prigozhin said.
In any case, the more than nine-month-long battle for Artyomovsk permanently changed the perception of the conflict, forcing both Ukraine and Russia to abandon any ideas of a fast-paced campaign or deep breakthroughs.
From this on, it will be up to the Russian Army to advance further to the west. Significant Ukrainian forces still remain to the west of Artyomovsk, having seized a number of positions during the May counteroffensive. They have established a foothold in Chasov Yar and hold the line between Krasnoye and Minkovka, thus preventing Russian forces from stabilizing the front along the Seversky Donets-Donbass canal. The Russian priority now may be to inflict maximum damage on the Ukrainian forces massed for the counteroffensive and drive them out to the western bank of the canal.
Ukrainian President Zelensky, in March, warned that losing the city would “open the road” to significant further Russian advances. They could go to Kramatorsk, to Slavyansk, it would be an open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine, in the Donetsk direction.
Alexander Khodakovsky, the commander of Vostok battalion of the Donetsk, expressed his opinion about the real purpose of the fighting for the city of Bakhmut /Artemovsk. He said that the hostilities gave the Russian military time to save up necessary reserves and make decisions. With Bakhmut under total control, Russian forces will cut Ukraine’s defenses into two parts.
Also, other military analysts believe that with Bakhmut under control, the Russian military will be able to cut Ukraine’s defence in the Donbass in half. The end of the battles for Bakhmut may also play a key role in the fate of the Ukrainian group in Avdiivka, from where they shell Donetsk. The Russian forces will thus be able to take control of the highway to Kramatorsk, and then move further to Slavyansk. Such a development will cut the Donbass grouping of the AFU into two parts.
Russia taking control of Donbass’ key transport hub of Artyomovsk on May 20 indicates a crucial turning point in the conflict between the Kiev regime and Moscow, Retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski told. This shows that the strategy of Kiev’s political leadership has failed, because what happened there can and will be blamed directly on Ukraine’s President Zelensky and his cadre, Kwiatkowski emphasized. Russia’s success was important practically and symbolically.
The timing is important here, since it has occurred before the anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. Kiev’s loss of Artemovsk may also make a dent in the West’s relentless determination to funnel weapons to Ukraine. According to the analyst, Zelensky is increasingly behaving “as if he does not understand the reality of the situation. With the complete fall of Artyomovsk, Zelensky’s usefulness to the West and to his own people, has suddenly become limited.
Artyomovsk in the context of Russia – NATO proxy war
When assessing the importance of Artyomovsk takeover, in the context of Russia – NATO proxy war, it can be analyzed in three aspects: military operational-tactical, military strategic, and political.
In the military operational-tactical sense, the battle for Artyomovsk led to the loss of large numbers of Ukrainian troops and vast quantities of military equipment, supplied by the west.
Wagner PMC published an “official” report regarding the AFU losses during Wagner’s operation in Bakhmut/Artyomovsk. Based on Wagner’s own accounts, those reports have proved to be quite accurate and reliable. Some interesting excerpts from the presented statistics: Destroyed the manpower of the AFU – 72 095 servicemen; Tanks destroyed – 309; IFV & APC – 697; Mortars and cannons – 3155; MLRSs – 83; UAVs – 282; Air defense systems – 45; EW/radar systems – 149.
One of Kiev’s major fortified strongholds in Donbass has been cracked, with others including the Avdeevka-Mariinsk-Gorlovka grouping and the Severodonetsk-Kramatorsk grouping of forces. Obviously, those will be next targets. It is quite obvious that Russia will not limit its operation only to the liberation of the Donetsk region but fighting will continue in Kherson and Zaporozhye, and the aim will be to move the border far from Russian territory. Dnieper River may be the future border including regions of Kherson, Zaporozhye, Odessa, Nikolaev, Krivoy Rog, Poltava, Sumy, Chernikov, Kharkov and Kiev itself.
In the military strategic sense, the concentration of fighting in and around Artemovsk over these past months gave the Russian side time to train its mobilized troops and to recruit additional contract fighters, while Russia’s military-industrial complex received time to mobilize its resources and ramp up production to wartime levels.
The amount of ammunition production now is much higher than it was at the start of the special military operation (7x more). The production of weapons and weapons systems is today manifold, for example T-90 newest version is produced over 100 units per a month; the whole Russian military-industrial complex has been working 24/7 since the autumn 2022.
In addition, the concentration of Ukrainian forces in Artyomovsk prevented Kiev from launching offensive operations in other areas, including the long-promised spring counteroffensive.
When they were fighting for Bakhmut and said that this city would not be surrendered under any circumstances, they associated its defense with preparations for a counteroffensive. The idea was that Bakhmut would draw in significant Russian forces, while Kiev would be able to build up a force, where they were planning their offensive. Stubbornly sticking to Artyomovsk practically destroyed the AFU plan to make a counteroffensive elsewhere.
In the political sense, the takeover of Artyomovsk was a significant political symbol, indicating that with NATO’s full support for Kiev was not sufficient but the Russian troops headed by the private Russian military contractor company was capable to defeat a numerically superior Ukrainian proxy force in the heavily fortified stronghold.
The supply of weapons and military equipment in Artyomovsk were delivered on the expectation that they would be needed to help Ukraine hold on to this territory. But the city was lost and with colossal losses, both in troops and equipment.
In other words, the loss of Artyomovsk, together with other recent Russian victories on the battlefield – from the elimination of Patriot missile systems in Kiev to the recent destruction of a massive NATO ammo dump in Khmelnitsky, western Ukraine to the loss of Ukrainian artillery systems by the dozens using drones might motivate President Zelensky’s Western partners to rethink their priorities and finally force Kiev to the negotiating table.
Data on losses, April – late May
One key purpose of Russian strikes has been weakening AFU offensive strength and deplete its ammo and other deposits for the counteroffensive. Based on numerous different sources, it seems that Russian Forces have managed to reduce AFU resources significantly during April – May 10 in the following way:
May 19, night, the Russian Forces launched a strike by high-precision long-range sea-based weapons against the enemy’s stations and training centres, as well as depots storing ammunition, weapons, and hardware of foreign origin. The purpose of the strike has been achieved. All the assigned targets have been engaged. The strikes disrupted the supply, training, and formation of reserves of Ukrainian troops to carry out tasks in the areas of combat operations.
May 22, night, the Russian Forces launched a group strike by high-precision long-range air-based weapons against facilities of the Dnepr airfield. The purpose of the strike has been achieved. All the assigned targets have been destroyed. As a result of the strike, hangars with weapons and ammunition, aviation equipment, as well as a technical missile preparation position were hit.
In Kharkiv region, the target was Kraken special unit (some 30 explosions); Dnipro / Dnieper airfield (25-30 explosions, heaviest attack here ever), Odessa (some explosions).
May 26, Russian forces delivered a multiple strike by airborne long-range precision weapons against the Ukrainian army’s ammunition storage sites in the past day during the special military operation in Ukraine. The goal of the strike was achieved. All the designated targets were hit.
May 26, both sides Russia and Ukraine made several strikes with missiles and drones. Ukraine hit from Dnipro to Russian targets in Krasnodar, Morozovsk and Berdiansk. Russia hit oil refinery and ammo depots in Kharkiv region and Dnipro region, from where Ukraine made its drone strikes.
May 27, two enormously heavy explosions in Izjumin as well as in Dnipro, in both cases the Russian missile strikes were against AFU troops concentrations in front of counteroffensive.
May 28, Russia has carried out a new massive overnight drone attack on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Overall, Russia launched a record 54 so-called kamikaze drones on Ukrainian targets. Ukrainian authorities alleged 52 of which were shot down. Earlier on Sunday, air raid alerts were activated in 12 regions of Ukraine, from Volyn in the north-west to Dnipropetrovsk in the south-east. In its recent attacks, Russia has been using so-called kamikaze drones as well as a range of cruise and ballistic missiles. The attacks come ahead of a widely expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.
In Kyiv, at least two high-rising buildings in different districts of the capital were on fire after being hit by drons. Kyiv officials also reported that warehouses in the southern Holosiyivsky district were ablaze. There were also reports of explosions in the city of Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv. Seismic stations have registered an exceptionally massive underground explosion in Kyiv region.
Other important events
The loss of the city of Bakhmut was a major blow to the Kiev regime, which is still denying its defeat. Two days after the Ukrainian military retreated from their “fortress”, Kiev attempted a large provocative “optics” on the Russian border aimed at gaining headlines in the western MSM in order to hide the truth from Bakhmut defeat.
On May 22, since 9 am local time, the AFU began the heavy shelling on the border villages in the Russian Belgorod region. It lasted for several hours and resulted in damage to civilian infrastructure. The main target was the Grayvoronsky region located north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
Around noon, after several hours of heavy shelling, a fierce battle was reported near the village of Dronovka, where a group of Ukrainian militants crossed the border. AFU group including notorious neo-Nazis in armored vehicles, supported by a tank and an infantry fighting vehicle, attacked the Grayvoron border checkpoint in the Belgorod region. Militants managed to advance to the Kozinka — Glotovo intersection and from there, Ukrainia servicemen reached the Glotovsky House of Culture by foot. In total, they managed to move several hundred meters deep into the territory of the Russian Federation.
The Russian armed forces, together with border guards, soldiers of the Russian Guard and the FSB as well as Russian assault aircraft, helicopters and artillery were taking measures to eliminate intruders. The remaining nationalists were pushed back into Ukraine, where they continued to be hit until they have been completely eliminated. The enemy losses were over 70 Ukrainian terrorists, four armoured fighting vehicles and five pickup trucks.
The attack of the Ukrainian military is nothing but another “PR action”, similar to the offensive on the Russian Bryansk region on March 2, 2023. The Ukrainian attack in the Belgorod region has no military goal. However, it is politically important to create a necessary image in the media. This is another fake victory of the Kiev regime. From the military point of view, the attack may be used as a distracting blow amid the upcoming counteroffensive of the Ukrainian military on the Donbass front lines, which was declared by the Kiev regime months ago.
On the afternoon of May 22, a large explosion in the city of Kramatorsk in the DPR. The explosion reportedly thundered in the area of the Starokramatorsky machine-building plant. However, no Russian strikes were confirmed by the local sources. The secondary detonation is heard in the area. The fire likely broke out on the facility used by the Ukrainian military as a warehouse for military equipment. It seems that this calamity is due to the blunder of Ukrainian servicemen in the ammo warehouse.
Following the terrorist attack on Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, September 2022. Russian Forces are taking measures to protect such pipeline facilities. Early in the morning, May 24, the AFU unsuccessfully attempted to attack the Black Sea Fleet’s ship Ivan Khurs ship, which is carrying out tasks to ensure the safe operation of the Turkish Stream and Blue Stream gas pipelines in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Turkey, by three unmanned speedboats. All the enemy’s boats have been neutralized by standard weapons, when the Russian warship was 140 km north-east of the Bosphorus Strait.
Military technical issues
F-16 – basic info
The Ukrainian Air Force and Ukrainian Army Aviation have been decimated over the course of the past year-and-a-half, losing nearly all of its pre-February 2022 inventory, plus jets and helicopters delivered to the country by its NATO patrons. With Soviet-built plane and helicopter inventories of former Warsaw Pact members-turned NATO countries running dry, Kiev needs a new source of plentiful, reasonably priced jets to continue operations in the proxy war with Russia.
Additionally, Britain and France’s commitment to send Storm Shadow long-range air-launched cruise missiles to Ukraine means Kiev may require a carrier for these weapons. Although the missiles are designed for use aboard Britain and France’s jets, modifying them for use aboard an F-16 may be considered easier than fitting them aboard Soviet-made jets. It appears that Denmark, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands, with an estimated stock of 125 F-16s, to make the “donation” to make room for their new F-35s.
The F-16 has a maximum speed of up to Mach 2.05 (or about 2,180 km/hour) with no weapons and a cruising speed of about 930 km per hour. The plane has a combat radius of about 860 km. The F-16 has been successfully modified to serve as a multi-role fighter-bomber.
The basic F-16 comes with a 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon for dogfights and has 9 hard points (plus two for guidance pods) on which a variety of air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles can be fitted. These include AMRAAM, IRIS-T, Python and Sidewinder anti-air missiles, HARM, JASSM, Maverick and long-range JSOW (Joint Standoff Weapon) missiles for attacking ground targets, a variety of guided and unguided bombs, Harpoon and Penguin anti-ship missiles. The planes can also carry US B61 and B83 nuclear bombs, which have a blast yield of up to 400 kilotons.
Case F-16 – three severe problems
President Zelensky has kept high profile PR campaign in order to get F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, which would be according to him, once again, “game changers” in Ukrainian war. Earlier it was reported that the Americans do not want to transfer their F-16 fighters to Kiev but recently Washington announced that it does not mind, if third countries do this.
Last week, the Biden administration took another step up the escalation ladder in the NATO-Russia proxy war in Ukraine, announcing plans to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets at undisclosed locations in Europe.
The military observers have added that it would take at least 4-6 months to train even experienced air force pilots to fly these aircraft. If a pilot is inexperienced, then at least for a whole year, or even more.
Based on military aviation experts’ unofficial reporting, American instructors have already trained Ukrainian potential pilots on flight simulators and curtailed their training, when it turned out that Ukrainian pilots do not understand English at a level that allows them to read displays and indicators for piloting and controlling weapons and on-board radio electronics and avionics.
This means that if F-16s appear in Ukraine, then they will be flown by American or NATO pilots. Practically, it may organized so that foreign pilots will be “private mercenaries”.
On the other hand, the jets the Ukraine will get have already been selected and will go through ready maintenance. The Ukrainian pilots, who already have some experience on other fighter jets, will get just a short introduction course – six to eight weeks or even less. They do not need to train air to air fights because the F-16 would lose any such fight against the newer and better armed Russian jets. They just need to learn the basics, starting, landing, going up to a certain height and launch point, release whatever long-range weapon will be on board and get down quickly.
It’s not just about the pilot and the plane, there is also need an airfield with complete infrastructure. On key problem now is that, in Ukraine today, there are no suitable airfields for basing F-16s, because they have all been destroyed.
The whole maintenance, supply and service system is needed with spare parts, aviation kerosene, technical service personnel and much, much more, so that F -16, and any modern aircraft can take off and landing at airfields. In addition, the whole command, control and communication systems, radars, air defense systems etc.
Normally, per one modern aircraft and pilot in fly requires dozens of service personnel and well-functioning command and control system on the ground. How to create such condition in war-torn country like Ukraine?
The third problem stems from the previous problem, no suitable airfields for F-16 in Ukraine.
The nearest country available could be Poland or Romania from where the fly to Ukrainian battlefields entails a 2000km round-trip. But the far distance requires necessary refueling fighters during the flight.
A munition-laden F-16 has an effective strike range about 500 km, thus it would have to refuel 2x to reach the battle zone and at least 1x to get back. NATO air tankers cannot survive so long over Ukraine. Based on some leaked info, there will be no air tanker service available to Ukrainian F-16s, which means that they will be located somewhere in Ukrainian territory.
Why hasn’t there been the AFU spring attack yet?
For months, Western allies have shipped billions of dollars’ worth of weapons systems and ammunition to Ukraine with an urgency to get the supplies to Kyiv in time for an anticipated spring counteroffensive. Now summer is just weeks away. While Russia took over Bakhmut recently and Ukrainian attacks failed on the flanks of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian spring offensive has yet to begin.
Two weeks ago, President Zelenskyy said it’s been delayed because his country lacks enough Western weapons to succeed without suffering too many casualties. Weather and training are playing a role too, officials and defense experts say. Ukrainian officials insist the counteroffensive is coming. The main reasons of delay referred to local bad weather, training of Ukrainian troops abroad and delays in western weapons arrivals.
Very professional and realistic assessment can be found in the interview here below:
American Lt Colone Daniel Davis (ret) interviewed by Judge Napoletano, May 23, 2023
When assessing the situation from the view point of realism, there are some other key reasons compared with those the western analysts use to mention.
As studied in the first chapter of this article, the Ukrainian wrong strategy and heavy defeat in Bakhmut / Artyomovsk has been one key factor behind the delay of spring offensive.
The other group of causes has been the continuous, massive and destructive bombings and air strikes by Russia, in April – May, which have devastated colossal amounts of all possible military material, which the western patrons have supplied to AFU. At the same time Russia has hit and eliminated huge number of AFU troops, troops concentrations and reserve movements around the whole Ukraine and thus blocked and prevented large-scale offensives formations.
Scott Ritter, ex-American major, military analyst and writer, today also social media influencer, stated recently:
“It doesn’t seem that Ukraine will be able to achieve major battlefield success, even though some 60,000 trained and equipped with NATO weaponry reserves have been accumulated. Many of these reserves were used in the battle for Artemovsk, others have been neutralized during an attempt to gather near the front. Russia has developed tactical operational and strategic advantages over Kiev that make it almost impossible for Ukraine’s forces to be able to amass military power of sufficient quantity to carry out a sustained offensive operation”. I share his arguments fully.
I studied in my article April 3, 2023: Situation Report of Ukraine war, March 2023 , that AFU have been preparing for massive use of drones (swarm function) in its coming counteroffensive. Those drones were supplied by Taiwan. Ukrainian forces want to use them in a counter-offensive against Crimea to create an effect of surprise and panic among Russian forces. But Russia has not sat idle, either. There are several new reports that Russian authorities have been developing different new means taking the drone warfare very seriously, from handheld one-man devices (jammers) to wide-range mobile truck mounted systems.
In early May. Now my analysis has been confirmed by a prestigious institute. The UK’s think tank, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) revealed in a new report about Russian electronic warfare some weeks ago. The Russian armed forces destroy about 10,000 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) every month, or more than 300 drones per day, as part of Moscow’s special military operation. The think tank’s report called electronic warfare a “critical component” of Russia’s tactics, which the RUSI said adds to “the staggering losses” of Ukrainian UAVs. According to the survey, Russia maintains “a major electronic-warfare system roughly every 6 miles (9.6 km)” along the conflict’s approximately 750 mile (1,207 km) front line.
“Sophisticated Russian systems such as the Shipovnik-Aero jamming station are hard to detect and can imitate other signals,” the RUSI pointed out. The station, the report added, also has an advanced array of effects for downing the Ukrainian drones, including interfering with their navigational systems. Russia can jam frequencies, spoof GPS, and send a drone to the wrong altitude so that it simply drops out of the sky.
May 23, the head of General Stuff of the Czech Armed Forces, General Karel Rzehka urged to prepare for a “bad scenario” of Ukraine counteroffensive. Here Twitter clip below:
On May 27, one of Ukraine’s most senior security officials told the country was ready to launch such an operation. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, said an assault to retake territory from President Vladimir Putin’s occupying forces could begin “tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a week”. Ukraine has been planning a counter-offensive for months. But it has wanted as much time as possible to train troops and to receive military equipment from Western allies.
Despite the risk I may be wrong but assessing realistically all development and events, stated above, it is looking more and more like there will be no Ukrainian counterattack at all or it will be more a kind of a pop rather than a big bang.
Conversely, Russia is going to make, sooner rather than later, its own big offensive using, in concentrated way, massive force in all possible forms – army, air forces, navy, strategic forces, including also all private military and paramilitary forces.
A tipping point / culminating point / turning point or whatever you may call it, certainly is seen in front of us. The timetable I suggested some weeks ago “All this will take place by mid-summer of this year” is still valid.