Ukraine: waiting for the counteroffensive

Signs that Ukraine is prepared for a major offensive in its defensive war against Russia are growing. According to Nato Secretary General Stoltenberg, 98 percent of the pledged Western weapons have arrived in the war zone, putting Ukraine "in a strong position to recapture occupied territory". Commentators discuss when the counteroffensive will start and what chances it would have.

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Pravda (SK) /

Open outcome

Pravda weighs in:

“Ukraine has found itself in an unenviable position ever since the war began. On the one hand it is pressed for time and needs to act as quickly as possible. On the other, a failed attack could lead to complete exhaustion and a stalemate. Nonetheless, a success for Ukraine cannot be ruled out. With its determination and the strategic insight with which it has already dealt serious blows to the Russian war machine, it has repeatedly convinced us that supporting its defence of freedom makes sense.”

Blog Damijan (SI) /

Recapture is science fiction

Economics professor Jože P. Damijan voices doubts on his blog:

“Of course, such a successful counter-offensive would be desirable. But the problem is that this borders on science fiction. The facts known so far are as follows: on the Ukrainian side there are said to be about 35,000 soldiers, reinforced by just over 100 Western battle tanks. On the Russian side there are probably more than 140,000 Russian soldiers along a 950-kilometre-long fortified front line. And if they do manage to break through the Ukrainians would face a deadly demarcation line of minefields, trenches and anti-tank systems that is several kilometres long.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Could be a while yet

Večernji list speculates on why the offensive has not yet begun:

“One of the reasons being cited is that not all the promised Western weapons have arrived yet, despite Jens Stoltenberg's statement that 98 percent have been delivered, including 230 tanks which are considered crucial to Ukrainian success. Secondly, at least 16 new brigades have been formed comprising more than 50,000 troops. These units need time to prepare and learn how to use the new weapons. Thirdly, the Ukrainians have no experience of offensives on such a broad front or of coordinating such a large number of units. ... In addition, the rain in April made many roads impassable for heavy weapons, so they have to wait until the terrain is dry again.”

Nikolai Mitrochin (RU) /

Drone attacks decimating Russia's arsenal

Political scientist Nikolai Mitrokhin explains on Facebook a successful element of the Ukrainian strategy:

“Every day, the Ukrainian army sends long-range drones (about 5 to 7 of them) over the front line, 95 percent of which the Russian air defence shoots down. This is of course a great success for them. Unless one considers that for every Ukrainian drone costing 10,000 to 20,000, a missile costing 200,000 (or more) is consumed, and that Russia produces about one of these missiles per day. This raises the question of how many missiles Russia has left from 'old stocks'. ... The Ukrainian tactic works regardless of whether these drones are shot down or reach their target.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

The Dnipro didn't stop them

Ukrainian troops landing on the east bank of the Dnipro River suggests that further victories are possible, Spotmedia says:

“It shows that they were able to push back the Russian forces even though they were protected by a major natural obstacle. ... Russian generals have realised that the Crimean peninsula is vulnerable, and have dug trenches and laid concrete profiles to protect it from tanks. But it's difficult to control such a large area if you only fortify those bits that are considered vulnerable. ... It looks like Russia, with a static army lacking in morale and modern equipment, will have difficulties thwarting a complex, multi-step plan of attack.”

Verslo žinios (LT) /

Kyiv needs real security guarantees

It won't be possible to defeat Russia with military means alone, writes Verslo žinios:

“[Ukraine's] supporters should not assume that the coming battle will be the last. It almost certainly won't. ... The West must also make clear that it will guarantee Ukraine's security for many years to come if it wants to curb the predatory ambitions of Putin and his cronies. Ukraine should be given detailed security guarantees - not the 'theoretical' one that the Budapest Memorandum [Ukraine's 1994 renunciation of nuclear weapons in exchange for assurances, also from Russia, that its borders and sovereignty would remain inviolate] has become - and that Putin has blatantly violated - but real, viable guarantees.”

Wprost (PL) /

Ukrainians need a victory

A counteroffensive would be vital for Ukrainian troops, Wprost writes:

“In conversation with Ukrainian soldiers on the front you feel their hunger for success, because since the recapture of Kherson on 11 November 2022 no spectacular gains have been made on the Ukrainian side. ... A success on the scale of the liberation of Kharkiv or Kherson is desperately needed now to boost morale. Particularly in view of the situation in Bakhmut, which is bleeding out. Ukrainian troops are still defending the city amid much speculation that it 'will fall at any minute' - but at a huge cost in terms of lives.”

The Observer (GB) /

No long-term option other than a settlement

Ukraine's lack of military clout will sooner or later force it to make concessions, The Observer believes:

“A durable truce's wider appeal is obvious. It would stop the slaughter, head off Russia-Nato nuclear-armed escalation, mitigate global economic, energy and food crises, and bring a sort of peace. ... In theory, either side could yet win a decisive victory. But much more likely, absent a deal, is a bloody, costly, low-intensity stalemate, dragging on for years. This prospect suits no one, except possibly China and arms manufacturers. ...To end their pain and suffering, Ukrainians may soon be asked to swallow a very bitter pill.”

Jornal i (PT) /

Another frozen conflict on the horizon

Jornal i also sees a stalemate situation:

“The transformation of the war in Ukraine into a 'frozen conflict', as was the case for many years with the 'civil war' in Donbass, serves multiple interests. Firstly, the US and China can continue to watch Russia get weaker: loss of lives, equipment, arms spending, falling GDP, gaps in the supply of goods and services, the possibility of social protest movements. Then from Moscow's perspective, the reduction in the intensity of the conflict means, as with other frozen conflicts (Georgia, Transnistria), a futher destabilisation of NATO's eastern border, but at the same time it creates a certain stability on the Russian and Belarusian border.”