Ukrainian tank on the front line in Bakhmut February 20, 2023.
Brno – Ukraine does not currently have many options and means to push the Russians out of its entire territory, says Zdeněk Petráš from the Center for Security and Military-Strategic Studies of the University of Defense. According to him, it will be existentially important for Ukraine to resist the current and upcoming Russian offensive. Petráš said this in an interview with ČTK. Friday marks one year since the start of Russia's military attack on Ukraine.
Photo gallery: Russian invasion of Ukraine
In evaluating the year of fighting, Petráš said that every war conflict has its own unrepeatable development and each side tries to avoid mistakes and learn from previous mistakes. However, the strategic approaches of hostile parties also carry with them certain stereotypes and well-established patterns of behavior. It is no different in the case of Russia and Ukraine. “Historical experience shows that the Russian leadership is willing to sacrifice a large number of soldiers to achieve victory. This will undoubtedly also be the case with aggression in Ukraine,” Petráš said.
According to him, the deployment of a large number of “manpower” on the side of the Russians will largely compensate for deficiencies in the capabilities of preparation and protection of forces, logistical and material security, the quality of the system of command, control and coordination of forces. “The deployment of a large number of forces will also compensate for the paradoxically weaker level of operational use of technologically advanced weapon systems. And time will tell whether the Russian command can deal with the weak level of mobilization of forces, by preparing these forces for deployment and alternating the deployed forces with properly prepared and equipped reserves, ” stated Petráš.
According to him, the fundamental and completely irreparable mistake of the Russian political leadership and military command was the completely wrong setting of the strategic planning assumptions for the intervention in Ukraine. “The assumption of a lightning war and its victory presupposing the fall of the Ukrainian political leadership led by President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, the reluctance of Ukrainians to defend their country as a result of the unsatisfactory economic and social situation, turned out to be completely wrong,” Petráš said.
According to him, the poor supply of materials, weapons and ammunition to the deployed forces was clearly evident on the Ukrainian side. According to Petraš, the constant repetition of the need for supplies of weapons and ammunition by the Ukrainian leadership and President Zelensky has its clear justification. “However, on the Ukrainian side, there is absolutely no visible transition to a war economy, mobilization of the entire population and industry for the transition to arms production, which is a sign of a country that is in a state of war. As for the deployment of forces at the front, there is also a visible problem in a change in forces that have been in operation for an unsustainably long time and need a change,” said the expert.
According to him, it will now be existentially important for Ukraine to withstand the current offensive as well as the offensive that, according to Petraš, will come even before the beginning of spring. “It will probably not be a large-scale Russian operation along the entire length of the front line, but in selected sections with the aim of achieving a moment of surprise in areas with a low concentration of Ukrainian forces and suitable terrain conditions,” Petráš said. According to him, it is reasonable to assume that such sections will be the central part of the front line, immediately following the Lyman-Lysyčansk line, where Russian troops are trying to gain control in the Bakhmut area. Here, according to Petráš, the Russian command will seek to transfer the operational initiative to the Kherson region with an effort to cross the Dnieper delta and advance towards Odessa with the aim of cutting off Ukraine from the Black Sea. “The concentration of Russian forces in this part of the front and further in the direction of Marinka and Vuhledar, together with the preparation of forces near Kherson, testify to the upcoming offensive, which will be aimed at this very goal,” the expert says.
Ukraine at the moment according to him, it does not have many possibilities and means to effectively realize the goal declared by President Zelensky, i.e. to push the occupiers out of its entire territory and restore territorial integrity. According to him, instead of concentrating on a hard counter-offensive, as an adequate response to Russian operational activity, Ukrainian forces should concentrate on defensive activity and an effort to blunt the intensity of the Russian attack again, as was the case in the previous period. “In the current situation, when it comes to supplies of material from the West and the Ukrainian war economy, this would be an adequate solution,” Petráš believes.