Ukraine launches counteroffensive

Ukraine's long-awaited offensive in its defensive war against Russia has begun. Kyiv has confirmed military operations and the recapture of several localities in the Donetsk region while Moscow has reported the destruction of several tanks supplied by the West. Commentators assess the situation as it unfolds.

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Observador (PT) /

This war is not a Hollywood movie

Writing in Observador, historian Bruno Cardoso Reis warns the West not to expect too much from the counteroffensive:

“For Ukraine to recapture a large part, let alone all, of the occupied territory, it will not only have to be exemplary in a very demanding and costly combined offensive manoeuvre, but at some point the Russian front - and with it Russia's will and ability to fight on - would have to collapse. We do not and cannot know today whether this will be the case. Not least because Putin could decide to escalate if he feels threatened. War is not a children's fairy tale or a Hollywood movie with a guaranteed happy ending where the good guys always win.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

No quick victories in sight

What Ukraine needs is not short-term victories but a good basis for negotiations, writes Turun Sanomat:

“Even if Ukraine quickly recaptures some territory in the initial phase, the counteroffensive will probably last a very long time. The continuation of Western military aid is crucial. ... Besides military aid, Ukraine also needs financial, political and humanitarian support. ... Even if no quick victories are to be expected in the counteroffensive, the goal must be clear: enough pressure must be put on Russia to make the negotiations acceptable to Ukraine.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Failure would be a bitter defeat for the West too

The operation is crucial for Ukraine, Der Tagesspiegel insists:

“If the liberators don't succeed in recapturing larger areas, it's quite likely that the war will freeze. ... Although in this scenario Russian President Vladimir Putin would have failed in his goal of conquering all of Ukraine, or at least all of eastern Ukraine, about one-fifth of Ukraine's territory would remain under his control. It would be a simmering conflict that he could escalate as soon as his army has regained the strength to do so. This would be a great success after a war that has been so embarrassing for Moscow so far. And a bitter defeat for the West.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Apparent advances

Jutarnji list analyses the initial success of the advancing Ukrainians:

“Several attacks concentrated along the front in the south and east are also a test for the new Ukrainian arsenal of Western tanks and combat vehicles, as well as tens of thousands of newly mobilised soldiers who have undergone months of training in Europe. ... As expected, the Ukrainians are sustaining losses in the early stages of the offensive, but they have to show results if they want to keep the flow of money and arms coming from the West. Some initial results are visible - in the last 24 hours Ukrainian troops say they have hit four Russian command centres, six troop assembly points, three ammunition depots and five enemy artillery units in firing positions. These reports, however, cannot be independently confirmed.”

444 (HU) /

Lack of air support makes things difficult

The Ukrainian army faces an enormous challenge, observes

“Despite spectacular successes, it's still too early to draw conclusions. ... The Ukrainian army is currently trying to realise the most difficult of all combat operations: breaking through established lines of defence. Since the Second World War, only the US and Israeli armies have been successful in carrying out such operations - in wars where their air superiority was unrestricted. ... In such a breakthrough operation, close air support is essential. ... Without it, the armoured units are more vulnerable.”

Libération (FR) /

The high price of freedom

The war will cost many more lives yet, Libération stresses:

“There has without doubt been many casualties already and we know there will be many more, because no matter how sophisticated the equipment, war always exacts a terrible price. The counteroffensive may enable the Ukrainians to win back their freedom, but in exchange the sirens of many ambulances will continue to wail at night in the streets around the central hospital in Zaporizhzhia.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Irradiated earth policy?

Le Temps fears a nuclear escalation:

“Russia's latest war crime, with its appalling damage to people and the environment, makes us fear the worst. A Russian defeat could rapidly turn into a scorched earth policy. Because as we've seen, Moscow has already resorted to a flooded-earth policy. ... Who can be sure that Vladimir Putin won't embark on an irradiated earth policy tomorrow? When will the Russian army transfer control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to civilians?”