Now is the time for Ukraine’s counteroffensive
Successful weapons deliveries and increasing Russian disarray bodes well
Much discussed and long awaited, the Ukrainian counteroffensive is now imminent. On Friday, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov commented that preparations “are coming to an end”, with Ukraine “ready in a high percentage mode”. Meanwhile, on Saturday, Wagner Group mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin speculated that the Ukrainian assault could launch before 15th May.
The front line is also heating up. Ukraine has struck at a fuel storage facility to undermine Russian logistics, and Russia has been expanding its efforts to detect increased Ukrainian partisan activity expected to accompany the offensive. Betraying fears of just how far Ukrainian forces may advance, Russia has not only been fortifying its defences across the front lines, but also within Russian territory in the Kursk and Belgorod regions.
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While only a small coterie of Ukrainian officials know the exact plans for the coming push, the UK Ministry of Defence has noted that Russia is putting significant effort into strengthening its defensive lines around the Zaporizhzhia front line. This is due to fears that Ukraine may attempt to seize the transport and logistics hub of Melitopol, in turn severing the land bridge which permits Russia to supply its forces from Crimea.
For its part, Russia has been striving to hamper the burgeoning Ukrainian offensive, this week launching a wave of missile strikes on civilian and military-industrial targets across Ukraine. However, its belligerence masks signs of weakness, disorganisation and a lack of trust in senior officials. On 27th April, social media accounts linked to the Russian military claimed that Deputy Defence Minister Mikhail Mizintsev had been dismissed after just eight months in the role, the UK Ministry of Defence linking his sacking to Russia’s “paucity of ammunition”.
Meanwhile, in merely the latest incarnation of his longstanding rivalry with the Russian defence establishment, Prigozhin took to the airwaves on Saturday to protest that his fighters in the eastern city of Bakhmut have only enough ammunition to last a matter of days, personally appealing to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to provide more supplies and threatening to withdraw his forces from the embattled city. Although not the first time Prigozhin has publicly complained and wheedled in a bid to get his men more ammo, this does indicate significant issues with Russia’s frontline supplies on the eve of battle.
These logistical difficulties may render Bakhmut vulnerable to Ukrainian advances in the coming onslaught. The commander of Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, pledged on Tuesday that Ukraine will “hold Bakhmut”, having claimed the previous day that some Russian forces there had been forced from their positions, while the Institute for the Study of War reported Russian advances slowing in the beleaguered city.
Leaked US intelligence revealed concerns back in February that Ukraine may not possess sufficient troops and weaponry for the attack and predicted only “modest territorial gains”. Yet Ukraine’s own readiness seems to have improved since then. Last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that 98% of the Western weaponry pledged to Ukraine had been provided, including 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks, “vast amounts of ammunition” and the training of more than nine new Ukrainian brigades estimated to number over 30,000 troops.
While US intelligence leaks in April may have forced Ukraine to alter its battlefield plans, its military has nevertheless endeavoured to expand its forces, supplies and weaponry for the coming assault. However, its success on the battlefield may stem not just from its own strength, but from the disarray and weakness within Russia’s military, too.
It takes a lot of motivation to fire man-portable anti-tank missiles at armored vehicles. If the Ukrainian people were not really strongly behind their war of independece, there wouldn’t be so many of them willing to shoot at Russian tanks. To argue that the West should impose peace negotiations on Ukraine is ridiculous. It ignores the obvious desire of Ukrainians for independence, and would reward Putin’s aggression.
Like Hitler did with German speakers, Putin claims the right to defend Russian speaking populations everwhere they live, regardless of international borders. That’s part of his justification for invading Ukraine. If would be really dangerous to allow Putin any winnings based on that theory.
You don’t understand the issues.
The conflict was started by the west.
Do some research.
I have done research. Russia moved forces into Ukraines east a decade ago to destabilise the region after their puppet was forced out during protests, and none of their preferred candidates made any ground in subsequent elections so they decided to first annex Crimea and then launch a full invasion
Crimea was always part of Russia.
Check your facts.
No you check yours. Crimea has been part of Ukraine for last 50 years after Russia gave back the land it conquered and took from Ukraine.
Crimea was once part of Russia, which is very different from always having been part of Russia. If Crimea had always been part of Russia then the Russians wouldn’t have had to forcibly annex it would they
England was once part of Normandy.
So objectively, it belongs to the successor to the Normans.
The problem is: you present no facts to refute.
Just repetitive nonsense.
Hopefully, you are not a Russian troll.
If so, you would be literally stealing money from the Russian people.
Thanks for not wearying us with a Russian troll argument.
Fact is, the conflict was started when Yanukovich sought Ukraine’s entry into the EU.
When Putin forced him to renege on the deal, most Ukrainians were outraged, and eventually overthrew him.
Then, when Yanukovich fled, the legally elected Rada chose his successor.
End of story.
All else is Trollspeak.
This was initiated by the CIA and NATO.
You have swallowed the lies of the western media.
You know nothing about it.
I read quite a few pro-war Russian blogs, plus the standard Kremlin narrative.
The former are outraged at the Kremlin’s continuing blunders. The latter just try to cover them up.
Yeah, I also listen to Solovyov’s antics on state TV.
Alas, this seems to be the one issue with which Unherd is decidedly with the Herd. It’s possible simultaneously to hold that A) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was wrong, and that the way he’s carried out the war (if the media is to be believed) is in many ways evil, AND B) the West, led by America, bears a fair amount of responsibility for this due to our penchant for bear-poking over the past decade.
Putin is undoubtedly a bully, but no one who looks objectively at the past ten years can honestly say that we haven’t done a lot of instigating. In fact, we’ve admitted it here and there. It’s just that we didn’t expect the bully to do THIS! Well, guess bloody what? Bullies sometimes react unpredictably.
It wasn’t unpredictable, it was predictable. Russian state been like it for centuries, we just tend to have too narrow a perspective.
What wasn’t predictable was Zelensky’s action, and his people’s action. What was then slightly less predictable was the US, NATO and EU rallying and solidity.
Thus I would contend you’ve got it fundamentally the wrong way round.
Uh, no. As one who hoped in the early days that Ukraine would respond strongly enough to send Putin’s forces packing, I also quickly saw in the early days that the West would undoubtedly turn this into a proxy war, claiming the higher grould while all the time ignoring the needling that had been done the previous 10 years. Putin may be a b*****d, but let’s not pretend that the West has been pure as the driven snow here.
It was entirely predictable.
Russia was pushed into corner.
The west is responsible for this.
The largest nation on earth, with a vast, undeveloped hinterland, needed “lebensraum,” by taking Ukraine.
140 million Russians must (and should!) dominate 40 million Ukrainians.
Putin needed NATO to retreat from its present borders–to create NEW borders, still cheek and jowl with NATO.
That this would have involved killing tens of thousands of Ukrainian leaders, and other recalcitrants, and turning Ukraine into a police state for one or two generations, so as to make good Russians of them, is a small price to pay.
Why, oh why did we sacrifice 50 million lives in WW2, when all we had to do was let Japan dominate China and the Pacific, and Germany Europe?
Are WE not the real enemies of peace?
Agreed with A and B, but it’s also possible to hold that C) Some in DC were always hoping that the bully *would* do this. Of all parties directly or indirectly involved, who can be said to be the biggest winner so far?
Agreed. Can’t speak for the UK and the EU but there are some in the U.S. who’d like the Cold War to continue indefinitely.
Not every opinion has to be contrarian simply for the sake of it. I’d wager if most people opposed the war and wanted the Ukrainians to surrender then you’d be calling for increased weapons to be sent their way to allow them to fight
There’s nothing contrarian about it. Remember Iraq? Lesson learned (20 years ago).
Blimey, the pro-Putin trolls are making up in noise what they lack in numbers (like Russia’s Army come to that). Here’s hoping we see Challenger 2 Tanks driving through Donetsk City Centre in a matter of weeks or months.
No pro Putin trolls here.
We want peace.
Check your facts, check the history of Ukraine since 2014.
Stop watching the BBC and reading
Don’t remain ignorant.
People are dying because of brainwashed people like you.
People are dying because they’re choosing to fight to try and keep their sovereignty, at least for the Ukrainians. I’ll wager the Russians are dying because young poorly trained conscripts have been forced to go to a foreign country and charge at machine guns.
You say you want peace, but what do you think Russia should give up to achieve it? Should they remove their forces from all Ukrainian territory if the Ukrainians promise not to join NATO?
Ukraine is already finished. You’ll learn.
If anything, Russia is finished. Putin has sent his most patriotic soldiers to either death or a life of infirmity in pointless and archaic human wave attacks against entrenched positions. Those ultra-right nationalists in groups like Wagner have suffered the same fate. Elsewhere, those Russians in opposition are either cowed, in prison, dead or fled the country.
Ukrainians have Western weapons, training from the Americans and British and the motivation of fighting for hearth and home on their side. Even if Russia were to somehow win on the battlefield, they will never hold onto their prize. Ukraine will bleed them white, just as Afghanistan did.
Just because, after 434 days, the Russian air force has failed to dominate the skies over Ukraine, and lost 100,000+ dead, only means that Putin is luring NATO into a trap.
You have no idea.
You dont appear to be able to string more than a few words together – Unherd expects some basic facts or, at least an attempt at a cogent rebuttal – you are making a t**t of yourself here bro
That’s why Putin cleverly ran from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson. That’s why he ingeniously didn’t freeze Ukraine, and lost 10s of thousands dead, and 100s of thousands wounded…for 30 sq miles around Bakhmut.
And when his army retreats again, he’s only luring NATO into a trap!
Once he reaches the Urals, he will turn and destroy us all…
That is quite incorrect. The trap will be sprung at Kamchatka where he will unleash the Demogorgon, patiently waiting in a gulag…
Sorry, got ahead of myself…
Stop watching the BBC and reading the Express.
You are listening to the wrong people.
Who should we listen to then? Russian State News perhaps?
I dont think you quite understand that the Ukrainians have decided that they would rather die than become subjugated again – history teaches us that yes they will die in large numbers but that Russia will never again subjugate them – look at the israelis surrounded by 100’s of millions who want them all dead ! The best fighters are always those to whom losing will never ever again be an option !!!
Russia’s leadership is now far past delusional.
Their self-attack on the Kremlin seems to be Putin and Gerasimovs’ last desperate attempt to somehow energize Russia’s (entirely inert) masses into fighting for “Rodina.”
But they totally misunderstand their own people. Russia lacks a committed group like the Party to carry out the horrendous measures needed to force Russians to go to certain death against far better-armed opponents. They lack “The Stalinist Conveyor” and can’t create it overnight.
The Price of not creating a Stalinist System.
Indeed, for most of Putin’s career he has been satisfied with small-scale, essentially criminal endeavors in Crimea, Donbas, Syria and Libya. They make money for a few, but don’t add an iota of strength to Russia.
Putin is thus a deeply unserious politician. Given his lack of a successor, he is also the very opposite of a Russian patriot.
When he goes, the whole ramshackle criminal enterprise will collapse.
So, get ready to dig deep to help the Russian people.
This is going to be far worse than the 90s.
Would be interesting to know the background of the article’s author.
Now is the time for peace negotiations. No one wants this war other than the neo-cons and the military industrial complex.
I think you’ve forgotten Putin off your list there to be honest. None of this would be happening without him after all
Of course it would.
The whole conflict was engineered by the west.
None of this would be happening if Trump was President.
The senile old crook Biden is putting the whole world in danger.
Agency & independent decision making do exist outside the west.
Funny how a “senile old crook” seems to be outsmarting Putin at every turn.
You don’t think that this might mean that Putin…is…a little dim himself?
Nope, wouldn’t dream of it!
I agree but most of the British public have been brainwashed just as they were with the COOF.
And somehow you were the one spared SD?
I do my research.
Please explain how Putin can recreate the Mass Death used by Stalin to win WW2.
Until we see millions forcibly drafted into the Army…
Until we see 100s of thousands of Russians sent in suicidal attacks all along the front…
Until we see mass starvation of the civilian population to finance the fighting…
Until Putin sends his entire air force on suicidal missions deep into Ukrainian territory…
He is fighting a Deeply Unserious War.
It’s no more than a ridiculous Russian “Boevik” (i.e. War Movie), with a few live casualties.
Same here in the States. Anyone with an ounce of objectivity can simply look at the press coverage and see how ridiculously one-sided it is. That in and of itself ought to raise red flags. We’re getting hosed into thinking this war is a good thing, just like we were hosed into thinking invading Iraq was a good thing. This time it’s worse though, because the anti-war left has gone completely silent.
The narcissism of the conspiratorist to whom only a secret knowledge and insight available a well known psychology condition.
The first step is to determine whether they are a reliable actor, interested in the world…… or if their interest lies in feeling better about themselves – psychological survival. To the latter, conspiracy theories have great appeal, as they feel like a balm to their self-esteem/identity problems. Specifically, conspiracy theories supply certainty in response to overwhelming anxiety (a sure path when one feels lost); prestige, where there are self-esteem problems (‘I possess important information most people do not have) & ability (‘I have the power to reject “experts” and expose hidden cabals’); vindication when one feels besieged (my ‘enemies’ are wrong, morally, scientifically)’; connection when one feels alone (even if it is fighting/trolling); and liberation:, ‘If I imagine my foes are completely malevolent, then I can use any tactic I want’.
The 1930’s called: they want back their appeasement policy.
The president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy will soon be backslash for allowing NATO and America mislead him and risk lives of so many innocent civilians of Ukraine.
The strategic move for NATO expansion towards Russuian territory through Ukraine has failed and backfired where people were mowed down, all this is attributable to one power monger country. Gradually, the world will unite against the west that has been supporting America in 5hrir wrong moves to infiltrate other independent states under NATO.
What is happening in Ukraine the Presindent of that country must take the responsibility for all this calamity in the Ukraine territory.
One problem with this analysis is it greatly understates the historical psychology of the Russian state whether under Putin, Stalin or Peter the Great. It’s always perceived itself as an Empire with subservient vassals around it. The idea that it’s NATO that created this just shows a lack of historical understanding. NATO expansion is the inevitable response from Countries desperate to get out from underneath that long history.
Hmmm. I wonder how America would respond if China started becoming a major influencer/controller in all the countries south of the border? Monroe Doctrine for me but not for thee?
NATO expansion is being driven by the West’s own needling. We poke the bear and then tell the kiddies, “Look! Isn’t he dangerous?” Well of course he is, you flippin’ morons! He’s a bear! If it weren’t so tragic it’d be funny.
If the Ukrainians genuinely hated Zelensky and held him responsible then the soldiers would simply lay down their arms and allow the Russians to advance to Kyiv surely? Nobody is making Ukraine fight, the west is simply giving them the chance to do so if they wish
Thereby ensuring the destruction of Ukraine.
The vast majority of Ukrainians clearly do not agree with this viewpoint or the huge quantities of Western weapons reaching Ukrainian forces would remain unused.
Without western weapons Ukraine would cease to exist as a sovereign nation, it would be a colony if Russia
Not our problem.
Having an aggressive, expansionist Russia marching up to NATOs borders could very quickly become our problem. Putin apologists seem happy to label the Eastern European nations willingly joining NATO as a provocation as it moves NATO closer to Russias borders, whilst simultaneously defending Putins attempt at moving Russias borders by force towards NATO countries
Nope. Both things can be true simultaneously: Putin could very well have aggressive goals, while NATO expansion is intended as provocation. And it’s highly probably we are being lied to about the latter at least.
So those Eastern European nations shouldn’t be able to decide their own domestic and foreign policy? They should simply be colonies of Russia?
Sadly, 40 million Ukrainians also seem pretty keen on this war.
Maybe you can stop them.
But I wouldn’t get in their way.
The only way they lose is if hostilities cease. If the fighting continues they win, no matter which side eventually comes out on top. And they’re willing to throw Ukraine to the wolves in the process.
Some people cannot handle the truth.
Unless Zelenskyy sits down and negotiates, Ukraine will be completely destroyed.
The western media is lying about almost everything they claim is true.
Losses are 7 to 1 or even 10 to 1 in Russia’s favour.
Ukraine is running out of men,running out of cannon fodder.
Ukraine has no chance defeating Russia and of course the warmongers in Washington do not want a resolution.
You just ignore the facts, the reality and the history of this conflict.
Day 434 of the War.
Russia has lost its entire regular army.
And Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, etc.
Now it will lose the rest of Ukraine, to include Krym.
And soon, when Putin falls.
Russia will lose Russia.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
I always find it amazing that people who don’t trust the MSM on virtually anything else are all onboard with it on this issue. Very strange.
Lol, this war makes Russia’s performance in the Winter War of 1939-40 look like Alexander’s conquests by comparison.
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