Date: 28 March 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Ukrainian Counter-Offensive: Possible Directions and Obstacles

Theoretically, Ukraine could set the stage for possible new offensives by both sides, but its forces are more likely to secure just one side instead, mostly to break through Russian lines of defense. Such a move could help Ukraine reap more territorial gains and reduce personnel losses.


In an interview with a Japanese interview, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Kyiv cannot start a counter-offensive against Moscow until Western allies send more military support. He also has appealed to the United States and European countries to ramp up their supply of ammunition. In addition, two months into unsuccessful offensive operations, Russian forces are sticking to a defensive plan. Forces near the front west of Bakhmut and further north also reported a notable decline in the intensity of Russian attacks. Donbas is where a brewing Ukrainian counter-offensive might begin. Nonetheless, with the region’s numerous hills, canals, forests, rivers, and Russian fortifications nearby, that might be an uneasy task for Ukrainian soldiers. But perhaps that could be a Ukrainian strategy to mislead the Russians. Most likely, the offensive actions could start in Zaporizhzhia along the line stretching between the Dnieper River and Vuhledar, where flat terrains stretch for many kilometers towards the Sea of Azov and Crimea and where Russian forces have fortified many settlements recently. Military experts, including Ukrainian generals and intelligence officers, seem to agree, which could yet be misleading. Modern reconnaissance capabilities, which include satellites, make it almost impossible to form a considerable military group unnoticeably. The only solution seems to fake military movements in several directions simultaneously, seeking to play out the whole situation so that the enemy believes Ukrainian forces are not ready yet. Zelensky, as for him, cited a lack of ammunition as the reason. Similarly, he addressed the European Council, quoting five delays in support, including those in sending fighter jets and long-range missiles, and saying all of them could extend the war in his country. If Kyiv waited for that, its counter-offensive would start only this fall. Now Ukraine is building up its forces for an offensive, poised to start in April, possibly.

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