The ground reconquered from the Russians at the cost of a large number of their own casualties has made the advance of the Ukrainian troops participating in the counteroffensive launched by Kyiv last June very insignificant for the moment, according to some experts.
“Certain calculations indicate that, together, the Ukrainians have recovered between 200 and 300 square kilometers so far, which makes their progress anecdotal. Furthermore, we do not know how much deeper they will be able to go,” says Army Reserve Lieutenant General Francisco Gan Pampols. The city of Madrid has 604 square kilometers.
“The offensive is not progressing and, in addition, men and materials are being crushed,” comments the Law professor at the University of La Laguna and expert in conflict theory, Luis V. Pérez Gil.
Added to this unfavorable analysis of Ukrainian intentions is the fact, as the lieutenant general recalls, that in just over 20 or 30 days the rainy season will begin, which will greatly complicate the movement of units. “The stage will get muddy first and then freeze. We have seen it before,” this experienced soldier in international operations tells La Vanguardia.
The current state of the war seems to have entered a terrain of uncertainty in which Ukrainian progress is very slow and casualties are greater. “He who advances always suffers more casualties,” recalls General Gan. The Russians resist on most of the extensive front and even reinforce and fortify their lines, although also at a high human cost, but giving up little ground.
“Right now the heaviest fighting is taking place in the Zaporizhia area. This is where Ukrainians make the greatest progress,” says Gan. Despite the information coming from the high command in Kyiv, which seems to be more optimistic than what the maps indicate, the reconquest units would be found between the first Russian advanced line and the first fortification line (there may be a second and even a third).
“It is what is known as the death zone and where the Russian minefields are very deep, as has been demonstrated by the high level of vehicle destruction,” explains the professor from La Laguna.
As the field of communication continues to be one of the most active theaters of this war, it is daring to give figures that neither side offers reliably. But General Gan provides some estimates that would show more or less the same number of casualties on both sides. Between 50,000 and 60,000 dead and about 200,000 wounded among both Moscow and Kyiv forces.
While Ukraine has perfected what Gan calls in-depth strikes with artillery and drones on targets such as ports and other high-profile targets such as warships, the Russians are carrying out advance maneuvers, harshly punishing the Kharkiv area.
“It is true that the Ukrainians have achieved some tactical successes, but none of those actions change the course of the war in my opinion. Some attacks even seem like desperate measures,” says Pérez Gil.
The slow progress of what already seems like a long counteroffensive and the conduct of operations by Ukraine have aroused criticism among some high-ranking American military personnel, which General Gan understands has surfaced. “Critics of the United States complain that efforts have not been concentrated and that dispersion disseminates power, makes operational objectives difficult and generates greater exposure of casualties,” comments this experienced Spanish military officer.
The long war, as has already been pointed out, will return the combatants to winter and with this it is expected that Russian attacks with long-range artillery and missiles on Ukrainian cities will intensify - something that is already happening occasionally - and with it Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses will once again be key. The plan is for the forces dependent on Kyiv to achieve renewed capabilities in this area with material from the West.
General Gan comments that the promised F-16 fighters will not be operational in the service of the Ukrainians until the summer of next year. Beforehand, it is assumed that 30 Abrams armored cars will arrive with depleted uranium ammunition, in addition to Atacms missiles, capable of being armed with submunitions, that is, cluster bombs.
Professor Pérez Gil believes that such efforts may be insufficient for Ukraine. “In my opinion, Russia is meeting its strategic milestones, such as integrating and maintaining the Russian-speaking territories, of which only a few are missing. They have prepared for a long war and, in my opinion, the Ukrainians are fighting where the Russians wanted,” explains Pérez Gil.
“Russia's ultimate objective, do not forget, is to completely destroy the armed forces of Ukraine,” says the professor.