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Ukraine Is Looking for a ‘Weak Link’ to Make the Russian Military ‘Collapse’

The Ukrainian military presses on with its counter-offensive. Kyiv is striking in several places at the same time, trying to find the weak link in the Russian armor that could precipitate the collapse of the Russian forces. 

Russian Tank Destroyed by Ukraine Drone Screenshot
Russian Tank Destroyed by Ukraine Drone Screenshot

The Ukrainian military presses on with its counter-offensive. Kyiv is striking in several places at the same time, trying to find the weak link in the Russian armor that could precipitate the collapse of the Russian forces. 

The Status of Counteroffensive 

The Ukrainian forces are attacking several places in the Donbas and southern Ukraine. Specifically, the Ukrainian military is pushing hard in the area around the ruined town of Bakhmut, near Donetsk City, in the Western Donetsk region, and in Zaporizhzhia. 

Kyiv’s goal is clear: break through the Russian defensive line and push hard to the Sea of Azov, thus slicing the Russian forces in two.

Once accomplished, the Ukrainian military could opt to attack the Crimean Peninsula in the south or push to the north and eastern Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian forces have made small gains in each of their attacks but haven’t breached the Russian defenses. The fighting on the ground is fierce, and both sides have suffered significant casualties.

“In the south, Russian forces often conduct relatively effective defensive operations. Both sides are suffering high casualties, with Russian losses likely the highest since the peak of the battle for Bakhmut in March,” the British Military Intelligence assessed over the weekend.

In about 16 days of combat, the Russian forces have lost close to 9,000 men killed, wounded, or captured, according to Ukrainian estimates. 

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian forces have lost a number of their Western weapon systems, including up to 10 Leopard 2A6 and A4 main battle tanks, two AMX-10RC tank destroyers, and 20 M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

A lot of these casualties are repairable, and the Ukrainians are trying to put any retrievable weapon systems back in the fight. Most crucially, however, the Western weapon systems have protected their crews even when destroyed. At the end of the day, the lives of experienced and trained crews and infantrymen are worth more than tanks and armored personnel carriers. 

The lack of air superiority on either side is making the job harder for both militaries. 

Moving Forward in Ukraine War

The Ukrainian military is moving slowly and steadily. Many would have expected the Ukrainian forces to replicate their lighting progress of last September when in just a few days, they liberated hundreds of square miles of territory in eastern Ukraine. However, this time around, the Russian forces have had months to prepare their positions. 

The Russian military has created one of the most extensive fortifications in recent history, with in-depth defensive lines packed with mutually supporting positions, minefields, anti-tank obstacles, trenches, and fortified strong points. 

And yet, the Russian military is having a force generation problem, and Russian commanders have had to move reserves and units from other parts of the battlefield into the regions under attack to fill gaps created by the counter-offensive. 

At some point, the Russian military will run out of reserves, and the small cracks in the Russian armor will start to get bigger until they crack. In this contest of patience and attrition, whoever manages to withstand casualties for longer will prevail. 

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. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

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1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

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