Upcoming Russian Offensive
It is no secret that the Russian military is getting ready to launch a large-scale offensive soon.
The chief of the Ukrainian Military Intelligence (GUR) said that it is most likely that any large-scale Russian offensive would focus in the east, particularly in the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces that make up the Donbas. Kyrylo Budanov added that the Russian military currently has more than 320,000 troops in Ukraine and an additional 150,000 mobilized reservists in the training grounds in Russia and Belarus getting ready for offensive operations.
The Ukrainians assess that the Russian military will try to counter its shortcomings in weapon systems and the poor quality of its equipment through numbers. Kyiv anticipates a Russian manpower superiority once the offensive begins. Future Western security aid could be tailored to counter this expected Russian superiority in men.
Recently, the British Military Intelligence suggested that the Russian military has been using Belarus as a training ground for some of its elite forces before they are deployed to Ukraine. More specifically, Moscow had deployed the 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division in the country for training before redeploying it back to Russia to be ready for the upcoming offensive.
The unit is part of the 1st Guards Tank Army, one of the Russian military’s most elite armored formations; Both units suffered heavy losses at the beginning of the conflict and during the Ukrainian counteroffensives last fall.
“It is now primarily made up of mobilised personnel operating older equipment taken from storage. Its combat effectiveness will likely be limited despite several weeks of training. There is a realistic possibility that other Russian units are being rotated into Belarus for similar training, and that Russia will continue this model to regenerate and prepare units to maintain its force in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence recently assessed.
Back in September, after a series of sham referenda, the Kremlin illegally annexed the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in addition to Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. But that action was quickly negated by the Ukrainian advances.
The Ukrainian Counteroffensives
Ukraine, too has, amassed forces in preparation for large-scale counteroffensive operations.
The Ukrainian forces are also getting ready for a large-scale counteroffensive operation in the upcoming months. Kyiv will most likely wait for the Russian forces to attack first, absorb the strike, and then launch a counteroffensive to take advantage of any vulnerabilities on the Russian lines. Budanov suggested that the Ukrainian forces would launch their attack in the spring in order to recapture the Crimean Peninsula by the summer.
But the Ukrainians are waiting for the new security aid from the West before they launch their counteroffensive. Tanks and infantry fighting vehicles will be crucial to the success of a Ukrainian push against a Russian military that has been fortifying its positions for several months.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.