Ukrainian troops are fighting a fierce battle on the Russian front lines. Time is short. Winter lurks just over a month away.
US general Mark Milley stated this week that Ukraine has about 30 to 45 days to counterattack before the weather worsens. Docent of Military Sciences Ilmari Käihkön according to it is too little.
– If Ukraine doesn’t get an opening on the front soon, the advance of the troops will be boring. When the ground becomes muddy, heavy tanks can no longer be moved through it. Day by day, the probability of getting through the Russian lines decreases, says Käihkö.
According to Käihkö, we must now start talking openly about the long frozen conflict. With its counterattack, Ukraine has regained about 0.2 percent of the territory conquered by Russia.
– It’s hard to say this out loud, but everyone can see it on the map, says Käihkö.
Although Ukraine has had victories, the front line really speaks a harsh language. It has remained almost the same for the last ten months.
According to Käihkö, the previous major breakthrough was Herson’s release in November of last year. During the summer, Ukraine has liberated several smaller villages and got through the Russian front lines in some places, despite that, there have been no significant changes in the front line.
– This must be said out loud. Ukraine will not be able to conquer its territories back unless there is some radical change, Käihkö states.
According to Käihkö, already at the beginning of the war, in March of last year at the latest, it was clear that a long and demanding war was coming.
– We have two states, neither of which is about to give up, and both of which have the ability to wage war, Käihkö says.
Käihkö believes that compromises are the only solution to the deadlocked situation. By going to war, if it continues like this, it will be very difficult to change the situation.
– Russia has enough troops and is looking for new partners. Ukraine’s ability to rely on Western arms. Those are the facts, states Käihkö.
According to Käihkö, they didn’t want to say this out loud. Maintaining false hope is not in Ukraine’s long-term interest either.
– Now we have to start thinking about 2024 and even 2025. How long and how much is the West ready to do? At least for the time being, negotiations are not in sight, Käihkö downloads.
In the shorter term, according to Käihkö, the decisive factor is which side is in better shape after the winter.
The Kremlin is storing drones for the winter
Also the head teacher of military skills at the National Defense University Jarmo Mattila already looking ahead to next summer. According to Mattila, nothing decisive will happen in the winter unless there is a total surprise.
– The terrain is soft, cold and wet. It is more difficult to attack there, and Russia has had time to prepare for the coming winter, says Mattila.
According to Mattila, everything shows that Russia is preparing for a long war.
– Russia has been able to repair both crew and equipment losses well. In addition, Russia has accelerated the production of Drones, among other things, says Mattila.
The Kremlin is now stockpiling missiles and drones for the winter. Last year, Russian attacks on energy facilities started already in October.
– Russia is preparing to continue attacks on power plants and other important energy infrastructure, Mattila states.
Russia’s partial business launch that started in September 2022 has also continued throughout. According to Mattila, at the beginning of the war there were about 200,000 troops in Russia, now there are about 400,000 soldiers according to various estimates.
Ukraine will continue to fight in all circumstances
However, Ukraine still has time before winter arrives. And its will to fight shows no signs of abating.
Chief of Military Intelligence of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov tells for Reutersthat Ukraine intends to continue the counterattack regardless of weather conditions.
– Fighting in the cold, wet and mud is more difficult, but the battles continue one way or another. We walk if we can’t move otherwise, says Budanov.
According to Käihkö, the biggest obstacle for Ukraine is still the vast minefields built by Russia and its artillery. A big question is also the sufficiency of troops and ammunition. Although Ukraine inflicts losses on Russia, it also consumes its own troops and equipment.
– The situation can also culminate for the simple reason that Ukraine’s power, i.e. troops and ammunition, will run out, states Käihkö.
According to both Mattila and Käihkö, however, it cannot be said that the counterattack has failed, but it has not brought the desired result either. Ukraine has fought fiercely and is progressing steadily, but too little.
– Of course there is still time and Ukraine has surprised before, says Käihkö.
A chance for a breakthrough?
According to Käihkö, one possibility exists in theory. Ukraine has now passed the first Russian front line in the Robotyne village area. According to Ukraine, the first line would have had 60 percent of the strength of the Russian forces, and the last two lines would have had only 20 percent each.
– If this is true, Ukraine has a chance to push towards the Sea of Azov, Käihkö estimates.
There would be an important milestone, Tokmak, where there are currently about 17 kilometers of stations.
– Right now, even during this interview, Ukraine is testing this theory and fighting.
The topic can be discussed until September 14 at 11 p.m.