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Will Ukraine’s Spring Offensive Bring Kyiv Victory – or Set the Stage for Defeat?

Ukraine is already critically low of available manpower and having difficulty mobilizing additional troops. It seems very unlikely that, after the losses they would incur conducting a spring or summer offensive, they would be able to muster another massive force with which to force Russia out of the remainder of their lands. 

TOS-1 rocket launcher. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

In remarks made last weekend, Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleskii Reznikov implied that a Ukrainian spring offensive could be imminent. Zelensky said the weapons, ammunition, and training provided to his troops from the West was crucial to enabling his country to continue resisting, but also cautioned that without more, Ukraine might lose the war. The bigger question: might even a successful spring offensive set the stage for a Ukrainian defeat?

At the moment, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) are reported to be up to 700,000 strong. The Russian army in Ukraine could be up to 300,000. But that numerical advantage for Ukraine is deceiving. As of today, the UAF has to put meaningful numbers of troops to defend the northwest quadrant of its country opposite the Belarus border. The lifeline for the entire Ukraine society and army is dependent on keeping the western corridor open from Poland through which NATO supplies and arms flow. 

If that path is cut off, the war is all but over for Ukraine. Since Russian troops stationed in Belarus might launch a surprise attack south, Kyiv is required to keep a strong defense there. Likewise, Zelensky must keep a strong defensive border manned against a new Russian incursion in the Sumy and Kharkiv border regions. Large numbers of troops are also assigned duty to defend Kyiv. 

Meanwhile, there is an approximate 1,000km long frontline that absorbs the lion’s share of all Ukrainian troops and supplies. There are three main directions that are in round-the-clock defensive battles with Russian troops: Svatovo-Kreminna in the northeast, Bakhmut/Donbas in the central east, and Avdiivka in the south. Positioned in a safe zone in central Ukraine is approximately 80,000 UAF troops who are reportedly equipped with mostly NATO-supplied kit, have received some training from NATO countries, and are well-rested.

Beyond the frontlines to the east, Russia continues to build elaborate defensive works. One of Russia’s biggest failures in the first year of war was their failure to prepare any defensive positions behind the frontlines. In September, Zaluzhny launched a surprise counterattack in the Kharkiv region that caught Russia completely unaware, and routed them, pushing Russia back more than 100km to the east. 

Putin’s forces had only a small number of troops in the north and had built no defensive positions in case of a counterattack. That lesson appears to have been learned. Attacking in open terrain, into well-constructed defensive positions, is a very costly affair for any attacker. Russia found out the hard way how expensive such operations are (as Wagner in Bakhmut), and Ukraine would likewise face the same challenges if it attacks Russia’s defense lines. 

But as the Washington Post pointed out in a recent analysis, the majority of the Ukrainian army that had been trained by the West from 2014-2022 has been killed or wounded, leaving a largely conscript army to do the fighting. The Ukrainians have fought ferociously and bravely thus far, which is why Wagner has yet to completely take Bakhmut. But defending trench lines and bunkers requires far less skill than an offensive. We should not be surprised if Ukraine turns out to be less effective in the offensive and to suffer more casualties than they have in the defense.

What May Come Next

Russia is in the process of seeking to expand its active force by 400,000 by year’s end. Ukraine, in contrast, as the Wall Street Journal reported, has nearly exhausted its effective pool of military manpower. It simply does not have hundreds of thousands more capable fighters to mobilize. The painful reality is clear: even if Ukraine conducts a successful offensive this spring or summer, they have likely used the last major offensive capacity. Czech President Petr Pavel appears to have reached the same conclusion.

On March 19, Pavel said Ukraine will have, “only one attempt to carry out a major counteroffensive… (i)f (Ukraine) decides to launch a counteroffensive and it fails,” the Czech president warned, “it will be extremely difficult to get funding for the next one.” An unnamed NATO official seemed to echo that concern, adding that the “next six months will be a key period in the war.”

Zelensky has been adamant, from the outset, that he will not negotiate any Ukrainian land for a peace deal. As recently as last Monday, the Ukrainian president declared “we will liberate every city, every village of our state,” and defiantly vowed he would drive Russia out of Crimea as well. If Ukraine continues to push its men to make offensive strikes and refuses to consider any negotiated settlement that results in some territory remaining in Russian control, there exists the possibility that the Ukrainian Army, as an institution, could collapse, putting Kyiv again at risk of Russian attack.

Best Case Scenario for Ukraine’s Spring Offensive

Zelensky’s spring offensive could succeed in punching a hole in the Russian lines, potentially driving a deep wedge into the current Russian lines in the direction of Melitopol. The intent would be cut the Russian supply lines in half, cutting off the land bridge to Crimea. Attaining that objective would also trap considerable numbers of Russian troops in the south between Melitopol and Kherson. 

While that end state sounds impressive and positive for Kyiv, few analysts consider the “what next” aspect of the war. Russia still has at least 100,000 troops that have not yet been deployed to the lines, and are attempting to add hundreds of thousands more troops to their army before the end of the year. In the event Ukraine were to successfully plow through the current Russian lines to capture Melitopol, the UAF would have depleted their offensive strength and have little more than a small theater reserve and the territorial border troops available for future operations.

Kyiv would need to immediately begin digging in against the expected Russian counterattack, which would pit fresh troops against a spent Ukrainian force. It is uncertain Ukraine could hold the lines against a concerted counterattack. But the bigger problem: Ukraine will have spent its last theater-level offensive force and would have to create yet another offensive force to have any hopes of driving Russia out of the remainder of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporezhia, and Kherson oblasts.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in late March, Ukraine is already critically low of available manpower and having difficulty mobilizing additional troops. It seems very unlikely that, after the losses they would incur conducting a spring or summer offensive, they would be able to muster another massive force with which to force Russia out of the remainder of their lands. 

Moreover, in the event its forces were driven back to Melitopol, Putin could finally choose to declare martial law and full mobilization to bolster his army, not waiting for 400,000 volunteers to sign up. There would be too few Ukrainian troops left to even defend their gains, much less to be able to offensively force yet more Russian troops out of Ukrainian lands.  In the event of a Ukrainian successful drive to Melitopol, it is unclear where Kyiv would ever find the manpower to drive the remainder – and growing – Russian army out of Kyiv in any subsequent phases of the war.

And that may represent a best-case scenario. If the Ukrainian offensive sputters or doesn’t gain much traction, Ukraine may not be able to inflict a severe enough wound on Russia and could then be in danger of a strong enemy counterattack. Either way, whether successful or unsuccessful, there is no clear path to Ukraine winning its war and driving Russia out of its land.

Unpalatable Conclusion

Nothing in life is ever guaranteed, and at least theoretically, it’s possible Ukraine, with support from the West, could somehow have a very successful spring or summer offensive and shove Russian troops back to the west. Yet as this analysis has revealed, the fundamentals that would exist even in the aftermath of a Ukrainian success could leave Zelensky’s army so weakened that it cannot defend even the new frontline, let alone muster the future manpower necessary to drive the remainder of the Russian army out of Ukraine.

A future analysis will examine the prospects for a Russian offensive in 2023, but Putin’s forces will also face steep challenges to try and achieve a military victory. Yet it should be clear to all by now that short of a direct intervention by NATO ground forces, Ukraine almost certainly lacks the capacity (especially in human resources) to ever drive Russia from its territory.

Given that probability, it seems unwise to continue trying seek an outcome that is likely militarily unattainable and instead seek the best diplomatic end that ends the pointless death of Ukrainian people, stops the needless destruction of Ukrainian cities, and preserves as much Ukrainian sovereignty as possible. Ignoring the balance of power that strongly favors Russia while hoping that Ukraine can muster the required strength to win a decisive victory on the battlefield – while refusing any consideration of a negotiated settlement – could ultimately lay the foundation for a much steeper cost to Kyiv to end the fighting, and on terms more favorable to Moscow. 

A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis.

Written By

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1.



  1. JR

    April 3, 2023 at 7:14 pm

    Mr. Davis, Putin sycophant is missing from your short-bio at the end of the article… Seriously, I think you would be a big hit at Zero Hedge!

  2. Brett

    April 3, 2023 at 7:21 pm

    It is clear that Russia hasn’t abandoned its maximalist goals for seizing all of Ukraine. Refusing to fight to a decisive victory guarantees collapsing over time to total defeat.

    Putin wasn’t satisfied with 2014’s territorial gains. It is clear he will not relinquish to annexed territory he doesn’t yet control, let alone what he currently does.

    But Davis always underestimates Ukrainian capability and overestimates Russian ability. I’m looking forward to asking for his retraction.

  3. Yrral

    April 3, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    Sources say Russian have already pacified Ukrainain in Bakhmut, Google

  4. Walker

    April 3, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    This MF at it again. If Russia took Bakhmut it is over for Ukraine, but if Ukraine breaks the land bridge to Crimea, it is still Russia’s advantage. He never gives up with his defeatism. No wonder he never made it to full bird. That is fine, I’ve got a bird or two for him.

    I will leave it to Gary to tear the piece apart.

  5. 404NotFound

    April 3, 2023 at 8:17 pm

    With UK supplying uranium-based munitions to Ukraine, US blowing up Nord stream pipes, CIA-linked operatives blowing up cafes in St Petersburg, massive infusion of new weaponry to kyiv and open unabashed admiration in the west for hitler zelenskiyy, it’s clear NOBODY is interested in P-E-A-C-E, only all-out W-A-R, hence forthcoming offensive.

    To put a wrench in that nefarious operation, Russia must unleash a couple of smartly employed tactical nukes.

    The offensive will immediately come a cropper, US and Biden will be at sixes & sevens, and world will titter at the brink of chaos as markets go wild.

    Biden will either have to step down and hand over his job to Harris or sacrifice euro vassal allies and Asian minions in an effort to up the ante.

    Use of tactical nukes will spell finito for biden’s master plan to take control of the world and advance his wokeist agenda.

  6. Goran

    April 3, 2023 at 9:02 pm

    The goal is not to storm every village currently occupied by Russia, the goal is to get a better footing for the inevitable peace negotiations. Last year, Davis threatened Ukrainians with Russian occupation of Odesa and Kharkiv. This year, he is contemplating the possibility of Ukrainians taking back Melitopol. Now, those two scenarios create two VERY different negotiating positions and chances are they will improve even further in favor of Ukraine.

    What we really want to know is how many miracles he thinks it would take this time, one miracle? Two miracles? Three miracles? AH AH AH

  7. Jack Hughes

    April 3, 2023 at 9:39 pm

    Forgive me for not taking the oh so learned retired Lt Col seriously he’s called the entire war wrong from day one.

    The Russians are down to sending museum pieces to the front line, do they have enough equipment to arm all the supposed bodies they’d raise? That’s of course assuming they didn’t all do the sensible thing and flee as 700,000 smart people did last autumn.

  8. Jai

    April 3, 2023 at 10:15 pm

    It’s increasingly obvious that these articles are actually satire.

    My forecast – like that old misquote from Faulkner, armies tend to fail two ways: gradually and then all at once.

    The Russian army has been failing gradually for some time now. See above for what comes next. The Ukrainian offensive will most definitely not be a grinding attritional push like Russia’s has been. It will be mobile and tactical and it will result in an absolute collapse of Russian lines.

  9. PubliusNaso

    April 3, 2023 at 10:28 pm

    Colonel Davis, have you wondered why Russia is throwing into battle very old tanks like T62’s? It turns out that these tanks have obsolete but nevertheless still functional optical aiming systems, even if without electronic components. The more modern optics for the newer tanks, along with many other removable components, have long been looted and sold from storage. This has been covered in numerous articles including a recent one in Forbes.
    So Russia is going to throw into battle 400,000 troops with obsolete tanks that can aim and fire at a fraction of the distance of the newer tanks Ukraine is getting in some numbers from countries like Poland.

    Due to NATO assets the level of intelligence available to Ukraine is at a level the Russians can only dream of. Coupled with real-time AI assisted analysis, this provides Ukrainians with much better targeting data compared to the Russians.

    I find it extremely unlikely that Russia has the capacity to successfully attack from the north. Even if they did and they temporarily cut the access from Poland (VERY unlikely, see the disaster of the attack on Kiev), Ukraine has a very long border with Romania and supplies would continue to flow as they are doing right now. From what I hear, the locals in border towns complain that the truck traffic towards Ukraine is incessant, military and economic supplies are flowing in at all hours of day and night.

    It is true that the Ukrainian economy has been damaged. However, the integration that is happening right now with the wider EU economy more than makes up for it.

    The production of ammunition destined for Ukraine is ramping up, both for old Soviet systems as well as for NATO weapons. This is happening in many of the old members of the Warsaw pact, and is being generously financed by the EU.

    Finally, Ukrainians do not really have a choice but to fight on. Even if they offered to renounce Donbass and Crimea, Putin would just take the deal and continue attacking. So instead of fighting in Bahmut, in a few months the fighting would be further west, damaging additional areas of Ukraine.

    I am really baffled on how a former US Army colonel would espouse views such as yours. Did you not read what Putin asked right before the invasion? His beef is not just with Ukraine, but with the whole US led international order. He is dreaming of a fragmented multipolar world where Russia can continue to bully its neighbors. What he wanted was to damage and weaken the international order and especially the US influence in Europe. Please advise us how you think the US should respond to his actions.

  10. Johhny Ray

    April 3, 2023 at 10:59 pm

    With the right weapons and plenty of ammo I think it would be quite possible for Ukraine to overcome their relative manpower shortage.

    Indeed, according to one article “Half of Putin’s Army Is Dead or Out of Action”

    “Of some 800,000 Russian troops who were part of the initial invasion army or recruited since then for the war, nearly 420,000 (over 52 percent) could now be dead or otherwise out of action due to wounds.”

    So, the Russians aren’t doing so swell on the manpower issue either.

    Last, I am sure most everyone at this forum has read articles to the effect that rampant drunkenness has resulted in many thousands of Russian casualties and impacts their day to day military activities very negatively.

    With infinitely precise planning, plenty of weapons, especially guided munitions, air support and fast troop transport options (including helicopters) Ukraine might just be able to employ a coup de grâce to Russia’s imperial pipe dream.

    The Ukraine flag hanging at city hall in Sevastopol would be a very bad sign, …for the Russians. I think there’s a good chance we will see that pic sooner than later.

  11. G

    April 3, 2023 at 11:46 pm

    t trained well, but Russian extra 400k are? Really? 🙂 Putin already struggles to find soldiers even in prisons. Putin doesn’t have trained troops either, he can try to get conscripts but that didn’t help him much 1st time. Why would it help him 2nd time? He called up 300k conscripts and nothing happened. Even Bahmut is not taken. Moral of russians is low but author presents like they are best fighters in the world.. well we’ve seen them “fighting”…The only real advantage Putin has is equipment, artillery to be precise. This is very hard for Ukraine to beat. I would agree that it’s somewhat questionable if ukrainians can design a good full scale offensive however they get help from NATO advisers. I don’t know what kind of diplomatic solution ukraine can find as Putin and co. multiple times stressed that they’re looking to destroy ukraine completely and take it over as they don’t even recognize it as a sovereign country. And as we can see what happened after Putin took over Crimea he doesn’t stop there as any “respected”fashist. As of ukrainians they only got two options, fight or die.

  12. Scottfs

    April 4, 2023 at 1:17 am

    Dear Ukraine: Surrender now! Expect further Russian invasions!

    You think Putin will be satisfied with just Ukraine?

  13. David Chang

    April 4, 2023 at 3:06 am

    God bless people in the world.

    People vote for people who don’t obey Ten Commandments, so they make war and destroy country by themselves.

    We should remember Vietnam socialism warfare.

    God bless America.

  14. John

    April 4, 2023 at 4:43 am

    The huge Russian offensive did not come and the huge Ukrainian offensive will not come either.
    The new Western supplies will allow to keep Russian forces tactically off balance. The war of attrition will continue. Western supplies of excalibur type artillery shells and loitering munitions and Jdams will have to make up for general Western artillery munition shortages.
    By the end of 2023 Ukraine will have longer range drones and heavier weapons including A10 and some replenishment of forces hopefully.
    A huge counteroffensive now will do to Ukraine what Kursk did to Germany

  15. Harmen Breedeveld

    April 4, 2023 at 6:09 am

    Oh Mr Davis, you call this an analysis, but it is not that. It is just you flogging the same old, long dead horse: Russia has unlimited manpower, there is no way Ukraine can win, yada yada yada.

    The ironic thing is that you do sometimes see what may happen. You just are unwilling to assume that it may come true.

    A year ago, at the start of the war, you wrote that Ukraine could not successfully counterattack, because it would take a year to build up the force to do so.

    Well, here we are. Ukraine has built up that force. The counterattack is coming.

    In this article you briefly talk about Russian manpower. You always assume it is near-limitless. But of course it is not: there are real and increasing political, logistical, economical, morale and other constraints to Russian manpower.

    I frankly doubt that Russia will be able to find anywhere near the 400.000 men for its planned armed forces expansion.

    I also highly doubt that Russia will be able to find many willing men to serve. Almost all will be highly unwilling mobilized – forced – men, wondering what the f they are doing in Ukraine.

    Then there is the infamous Russian poor training with harsh treatment, the increasing lack of equipment.

    And lastly the horrifically poor leadership which makes everything else worse for Russia. The willful sacrifice of countless men around Bakhmut for zero result. The unimaginative attacks elsewhere, that usually lead to bloody defeat. And a year of such experiences for the Russian army.

    Ill-trained men may be able to hold defensive lines … if they believe at least somewhat in what they are doing there, and if they have at least some trust in their commanders.

    Mobilized, ill-trained, poorly treated Russian troops may well completely lack that belief and trust. And then lines can collapse easily when attacked. Like an impressive house of cards from which one pulls away a single card at the bottom.

    One even should wonder: are these defensive works as good as Mr Davis imagines them to be? With callous and dull commanders, unwilling soldiers, lots of alcohol and fatalism and (so I understand) the absence of a decent NCO layer in Russia’s army, these defensive works may well prove to be more propaganda than real in many theaters along the front.

    If that were the case, Ukrianian and Western intelligence will have no trouble finding these spots, like they did in Kharkiv. What would such info do for a Ukrainian counterattack?

    Of course I do not know if this is true or will happen. Unlike Mr Davis, I am aware of the limitations of my arguments. But what I wrote may well be true. Ir at least true enough to matter for the outcome.

    Time will tell.

  16. Commentar

    April 4, 2023 at 6:10 am

    Offensive by Ukraine ? ? ?

    Russia must employ NUCLEAR weapons against the offensive.

    Russia must do to Ukraine what USA did to the Marshall archipelago ( today the Republic of Marshall Islands) in the 20th century.

    USA nuke-bombed Marshall archipelago over 60 times.

    Who the villain now, eh ? ? ?

  17. Andrew P

    April 4, 2023 at 7:18 am

    I’ve got the impression that both Ukraine and Russia are currently running on fumes, but are doing their best to put out propaganda that makes their tank appear 1/4 full.

  18. len

    April 4, 2023 at 7:23 am

    It seems almost a futile effort for Ukraine to try running off the Russia bear with the spring counter offensive. Although the UAF, with NATO’s help has proven to be a formidable foe vs Russia. There comes a time to pursue alternative efforts, mainly peace talks, better late than never. Something that Ukraine has been unable to do, perhaps because of NATO/US interference in favor of their proxy war with Russia. It’s time for Zelenskyy to buck-up and face his demise, or keep watching as Russia with its slow screw tactics turn more of his cities into rubble and ashes.

    “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight”
    Sun Tzu

  19. Richard Hershberger

    April 4, 2023 at 7:28 am

    I just had an epiphany: Daniel Davis is a parody account, mocking the tankies. It is the only explanation for why he also successfully dresses himself.

  20. David Chang

    April 4, 2023 at 9:04 am

    God bless people in the world.

    Mr. Davis thinks about something in the future, but it’s also the past.

    Democratic Party doesn’t assess the ammunition shortage of Ukraine socialism warfare before the war, and provokes the CCP with insufficient US Army budget and delayed USN building program and ammunition shortages of the U.S. Military.

    However, Democratic Party still promotes socialism policies with Communist Party and EU SPD, making the insufficient budget of NATO and insufficient maintenance of weapons. But Democratic Party doesn’t confess their sin, so they say that the CCP is not a threat.

    Democratic Party cooperates with the Communist Party from World War 2, causing the U.S. military to lose the Socialism War in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghan. Now the whole threat to the U.S. military is not only Russia, but also the CCP, North Korea, Iran, and Africa. Therefore, Democratic Party makes the U.S. finances and the Unified Command Plan to fail.

    God bless America. 

  21. Gary Jacobs

    April 4, 2023 at 9:47 am

    Davis, LoL. I cant believe anyone still publishes this guy.

    Special h/t to Harmen Breedeveld and Johhny Ray from picking this piece apart. I had a special smile reading your posts.

    Davis has been warning against this mythical next invasion from Belarus for quite some time. But just like the last time there would be ample images in advance of such a large force by satellite that the US would share with Ukraine.

    Furthermore, as the Russians found out the last time, the The Pripyat Marshes are a massive wetland that covers a large portion of the area overlapping southern Belarus and northern Ukraine.

    Those wetlands make a large land invasion close to perfectly stupid to attempt, and will funnel armored vehicles into large columns stretching miles long on limited available roads which become easy targets for artillery and ATGMs. Sound familiar? This time Ukraine has HIMARS to pile on with. The words ‘Turkey Shoot’ come to mind.

    Also as Russia found out last time, 15yr old boys who barely weigh 100 pounds, but can fly drones, will again become useful to Ukraine’s military as they defend their homes. Therefore Davis’ estimation of Ukraine’s troop strength should Russia invade from Belarus again is wildly underestimated.

    Much has already been said in other comments about recruiting. I would just like to reinforce that Ukraine wants more soldiers who can be trained on western equipment and tactics. That training takes more than a couple weeks, and Ukraine values training while Russia just wants warm bodies that they can throw away.

    The western training should keep Ukrainians alive much longer than Russian meat shields.

    People like to back a winner, and I suspect IF/when the western equipment and training shows that it can both keep Ukrainians alive and take back territory from Russia at the same time… any issues Ukraine is having now with recruiting will be a blip on the radar.

    Not to mention the fact that Russia resorted to compulsory mobilization, which Ukraine has not yet done. Though to be fair, they made it illegal for military aged men to leave the country.

    Furthermore, I would guesstimate that every western trained Ukrainian defending their homeland is worth 10+ poorly trained Russians fighting for Putin’s imperialist wet dream.

  22. Edward J Gallagher

    April 4, 2023 at 10:09 am

    A number of American retired military officers (none above Lt.Colonel) have lent themselves as media experts predicting the imminent failure of the Ukraine armed forces. L/C’s are coffee boys for actual combat leaders so their opinions should be looked at with skepticism to start with. Davis has been consistently wrong with his predictions for Ukraine from the start. We hear vague references to the popularity of the war among the Russian people mostly from Moscow misinformation experts. What we don’t hear is that the Russian troops themselves simply don’t care Ukraine and don’t see the invasion as having anything to do with protecting Russia. Historically Russia has not done well with foreign military adventures with the exception of WW2 when western allies lost hundreds of thousands of men so Stalin’s Russia could accumulate enough cannon fodder to overcome the German forces through massive attacks with no consideration for casualties. They were motivated then to protect their homeland and evict invaders. They have no suck motivation in the war on Ukraine. The war will end abruptly when the military elite are faced with the revolt of Babushka’s banging pots in Red Square shouting for the return of their sons. Putin will be imprisoned or killed by the military leadership in order to preserve their power in the country. Putins myopia has put the oligarchy system in power since the fall of Communism in jeopardy.It’s doubtful that will be accepted and his exit from power is inevitable.

  23. Gary Jacobs

    April 4, 2023 at 11:24 am

    A couple things to add,

    Just as Davis was wrong to prematurely predict the failure of the Kherson offensive based on a cherry picked Washington Post article. He seems to be making a similar mistake here.

    Ukraine is busy shaping the battlefield to minimize the risk of casualties to their own troops, and to make it clear to the Russians that their hold on Southern Ukraine is untenable. Just as they did in Kherson.

    While the Dnipro River was a more formidable obstacle for the Russians, their logistics in southern Ukraine are not much better. Ukraine already has the capability to hit targets along the Sea of Azov, and every east-west route from Russia to Melitopol.

    To that point, explosions in Melitopol have increased substantially in the last few weeks. Most recently at a depot used by Russians to repair military equipment.

    At least six explosions occurred within that depot alone, where Russia had set up its military equipment repair base, as well as fuel and ammunition stocks.

    According to a Ukrainian official, the earlier explosions completely destroyed the roof in one of the depot’s production shops, having caused damage to the military equipment under repairs. “This refers to dozens of military equipment units…Additionally, dozens of Russian soldiers were eliminated.”

    Based on what I am hearing, and from videos I am seeing of Ukraine using drones for precision attacks right into Russian trenches… before the offensive begins there will be wave after wave of drones pummeling Russians in those trenches.

    I have seen videos of Ukraine stockpiling HUGE amounts of FPV drones that can carry RPG warheads…and the US is supplying a wide variety of longer range drones all the way up to the ALTIUS-600, which has a maximum range of 276 miles and carries a payload of up to 7 pounds. But the way the explosive warhead is made it’s actual effect is comparable to those that contain several times more weight of explosives. They are also tube launched which can be mounted on the back of any pick up truck or large ATV.

    As well, I continue to recommend people check out a video on YouTube called ‘Combined Arms Breach’ about the Tactics Ukraine is being taught to defeat minefields and trenches Russia is setting up.

    The visualization was developed for the Maneuver Center of Excellence and is closely based upon the National Training Center Breach and Assault exercise. The video is hosted by OEC G&V – a US Army TRADOC G2 organization that transforms actual combat events into unclassified 3d visualizations.

  24. Jim

    April 4, 2023 at 12:22 pm

    The resolution of Bakhmut will influence everything which follows it.

    President Zelensky has admitted as much.

    Everybody will have a new analysis after the event.

    President Zelensky has also acknowledged the possibility of negotiation… admittedly only if Ukraine suffers significant setbacks. Ukraine supporters repeatedly say it will never happen. Okay, fine.

    Up to a decision to negotiate… you keep a hard face, a poker face, you take hard actions… to stave off the prospect of negotiations.

    I expect President Zelensky to take a hard line… until the moment he negotiates… if Zelensky ever does negotiate.

    Nobody wants to negotiate… until they do.

    The thesis of the author is that Ukraine has the ability to launch ONE offensive, but not multiple offenses. And, even if Ukraine has a successful offensive, the “burn rate” will leave them without the equipment & manpower to follow up on a successful offensive… how many offensives does Zelensky have in his pocket?

    Many predictions have gone off the rails (including my own).

    Whatever happens… it seems all sides… have to see the resolution of more battles before allowing themselves to consider stopping the bloodshed.

    That’s where we are.

    How much bloodshed will it take?

  25. Simon Beerstecher

    April 4, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    Over the last year Mr Davis has been completely wrong on pretty much all counts , its a wonder that he has the gall to continue his hopelessly poor military assesments.The man must be either a complete Thicky or irrepresibly thick skinned!

  26. Roger Bacon

    April 4, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    If defeatist paragraphs of Daniel Davis were soldiers, Ukraine would have all the manpower it needs.

  27. Mark Thomason

    April 4, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    This could mention two more concerns.

    First, Ukraine’s government now controls only about half of the pre-war population. It draws on ~20 million people, not ~40 million as it once did. The others are in Russian control or refugees. In addition, even those inside Ukraine include about 1/3 who are “internally displaced” and so both less productive and less under mobilization control.

    Second, the West has exhausted its available stocks of weapons and ammo. It cannot manufacture more until factories come on line, which will take much longer than Ukraine has time. The other hard choice would be for the US to hand over its own war reserve stocks, leaving it helpless for anything else (Taiwan, Iran, Korea, Mexico) for years to come. The DoD is adamantly opposed to doing that.

  28. Johhny Ray

    April 4, 2023 at 2:52 pm

    According to Alex Rosin, on March 26 2003, of the 800k Russian troops who were part of the Ukraine invasion army over 420k, or 52+ percent, are likely dead or out of action due to wounds.

    That breaks down as 167k killed, 500k wounded including 150k still getting medical care and 100k permanently disabled.

    The figures suggest for all intents and purposes the entire Russian army is COMBAT INEFFECTIVE and according to standard doctrine should be removed from the field of battle for refurbishment, repairs, re-training, etc.

    If those figures are close to accurate they would suggest a well planned and furbished Ukraine might launch a very successful assault along the entire front line. Of course and more focused assault might gain and hold more territory.

  29. Jim

    April 4, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    President Zelensky has issued an ultimatum:

    Russian soldiers leave Ukraine or be destroyed.

  30. HAT451

    April 4, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    Consider the follow, Ukraine attacks. Russia employs tactical nuclear weapons as an air burst. This produces an EMP which knocks out all non-tube based electronics for miles, i.e. the front. Opps, not the most technologically advanced tank on the front is the lowly archaic T54 with tube based radios and optics unaffected by an EMP.

    Beyond that, one also has to take a look at the raw numbers. About a month ago, Ukraine had lost just over 607k as KIA, MIA, WIA, and POW. Optimistically Ukraine’s current population is 36m. Usually men are 52% of the population while woman are 48%. Working the basic math, there were about 18.72 million men in Ukraine, of which 607k, are no longer able to be mobilized. This means that Ukraine has lost about 3.24% of it’s man, primary men of military age. For the entire country, this is a loss of about 1.68% of their population. In terms of US population which is currently about 333 million, this loss of 1.68% would mean a loss of almost 6 million. This leads to the question of how much longer can Ukraine hold out.

    LTC Davis’s analysis focuses on a Ukrainian counter offensive with a Russian reaction. But in war, both combatants are constantly acting and reacting. Also, to conduct an operation of this scope, when the military initiative on the opposing side is near impossible. Consider what happens if the Ukrainian’s attack in the south, and the Russians attack in the north as their main effort, along one of the axis of advance LTC Davis wrote about, at the same time. Russia does have the numbers and equipment to conduct an operation in the north, while repelling an Ukrainian operation in the south.

    Given the national power ration between Ukraine and NATO, verses Russia in terms of manpower, equipment, war material production, raw resources, this is a very high risk operation for Ukraine. It this attack does happen it will have limited success, due to the element of surprise, until the Russian counter attack happens, with a force of at least 2 times greater then the Ukrainian attack. Additionally, there will not be any attacks until the ground in Ukraine firms up from the melting snow and rain, enough for military vehicles to maneuver.

    Finally, Russia has conducted one mobilization of 400k, and is about to start on a second mobilization 400k in April of 2023. I do not think, nor expect to see those troops on the front line. They are there to as reactionary force should this conflict escalate with direct combat with NATO member states, verses how the west is fighting the war today, using Ukrainian manpower and western military aid.

  31. Michael Droy

    April 4, 2023 at 5:12 pm

    Lt Col Davis is always first with the official news from the pentagon.

    Truth is that Ukraine has always been losing this war badly, and every time the Pentagon wants to calm the overly excited media, Davis is their man to pour cold water over too much enthusiam.

    Trouble is Ukraine’s hopes have been dead so long, that Davis’s “touch of realism” now looks a bit silly.
    There is no Ukrainian army worth talking about now, and to further permit more slaughter of men over 50 and boys under 18 is quite evil.
    Davis and the Pentagon have a duty to spell this out much more clearly.

  32. Gaba

    April 5, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    Good article – very surprised to see this realistic take being published here, credit to 19fortyfive for allowing a different viewpoint.

  33. Fred Leander

    April 5, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    Gaba – support you in that! Very commendable. The reaction of the Putin-haters shows that you hit the nail, mr. Davis!

  34. dave

    April 6, 2023 at 4:13 am

    The war was lost 3/24/22 I`m amazed at the fools who thing Ukraine has any chance.NATO has been exposed as a paper tiger.

  35. Wesser

    May 9, 2023 at 1:09 pm

    Will the Ukraine offensive be a success? Maybe

    Now its relatively clear that Davis isnt providing an unbiased assessment though it is clear if he’s just hoping hus narrative Will be proven in the end or if he’s a Putin handpuppet

    There are many assumptions of his that doesnt really hold up, but most tellingly he spends many words wondering if UAF is capable of a successfull offensive, but is very certain Russia is automatically capable of counterattack

    Forget how many tanks, artillery or men Putin have or dont have

    Is Russia capable in terms of intelligence, logistics and tactics to manage any sort of non-static operation?

    Probably not. Russian offensive operations for the past year have sort of hinged on the UAF being where the russians expect them to be as Well as not moving.

    The UAF might not succeed, but the only thing that Can really threaten Ukraine now is .. sadly. Peace negotiations

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