Ukrainian armed forces may only try to stop the Russian advance for a long time. Western diplomats and military strategists say the exhausted country needs time to rebuild and may not be able to mount another major counteroffensive until 2025. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote this on its website on Friday.
The newspaper reminds that the costly several-month Ukrainian counter-offensive, the goal of which was to push out the Russian invasion troops, culminated in a small shift on the front line. Question marks have appeared regarding further economic and military support from the United States and Europe, internal political disputes are deepening in Ukraine and the nation’s morale is declining, the newspaper writes.
According to him, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week ordered the construction of an extensive network of combat fortifications to help soldiers hold the lines. On Wednesday – Armed Forces Day – he confirmed the difficulties in the fight and called for perseverance.
“Is there really an alternative? No,” he said. This is a marked shift in mood from before, when Kiev – emboldened by previous successes in repelling Russian advances and an influx of Western weapons – decided to expel invading troops from the nearly 20 percent of Ukrainian territory they occupy, the WSJ writes.
A Ukrainian military operation has failed on Russian defense fortifications, US political unity on Ukraine is crumbling amid partisan bickering, and the world’s attention has been drawn to the war between Israel and the Palestinian radical movement Hamas. Meanwhile, Putin is reorienting the country’s economy to a war economy, the paper notes, according to which Russia shows no signs of abandoning its original goal of dominating the neighboring country.
Ukraine has failed
The Ukrainian summer offensive is effectively over – and an unsuccessful one at that. Kiev has not achieved even the minimum set goals, and the developments of the last months on the battlefield have shown how difficult it will be to win the entire war.
On the battlefield, some Ukrainian soldiers are unsure how long their ammunition supplies will last. Those fighting in the Donbass say the artillery shells on the ration make it difficult to fend off the Russian troops rushing towards them, the newspaper said. In recent interviews, Ukrainians along and far from the front lines resignedly conceded that more bad news could come.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said any lull in fighting now would only give Russia an opportunity to regroup and prepare for new action. “We are preparing our brigades for new counterattacks and defensive operations,” said the head of diplomacy.
Some of them were recently seen near the town of Lyman, not far from the front line, the WSJ reports, according to which the Ukrainians are digging trenches there, indicating a new approach by the Ukrainian army. Since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainians have dug relatively shallow trenches and attempted mobile defensive operations, making lightning raids on Russian troops, the newspaper describes.
According to him, the appearance of the new trenches is reminiscent of those that Russian forces have been building in southern Ukraine since last winter and that helped thwart the summer Ukrainian counter-offensive. They are reminiscent of the stalemate that prevailed in the Donbass eight years after Moscow-backed separatists occupied a part of it in 2014, writes the paper, which goes on to point out that defensive operations do not have to include only fortifications.
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If Ukraine and its allies can deal with current problems and continue to supply troops, Western strategists say the best-case scenario is that next year will be a rebuilding year for Ukraine’s military, the WSJ believes. The hope, he said, would be that the limited number of Ukrainian soldiers could keep Russian forces at bay, which would give NATO countries time to train fresh Ukrainian fighters, expand weapons production and replenish Ukraine’s arsenal.
Another hope expressed at a recent NATO meeting was that Russian attempts to breach Ukraine’s defenses would fail, weakening Russian resources and potentially offering Ukraine better prospects for taking a new battlefield initiative in the spring of 2025 if it survives 2024, the paper notes.