Date: August 11, 2023   Updated: October 7, 2023
Is Ukraine counter-offensive faltering? Is it losing steam?
The answer is no. Not at all. It has not started yet!
People were led to think that Ukraine's counter-offensive is faltering and is
not performing as well as hoped. They were disappointed at not seeing a
lot of advances at the front line. But patience is what it takes for great
accomplishment. The counter-offensive has not started yet.
The current main focus of Kyiv's counter-offensive efforts is to prepare
for the final big one. They have to clear paths through heavily mined fields.
They can't rush into a war when the situation is not right.
Ukraine's current strategy and tactics:
Ukraine will not start the counter-offensive until they are totally
ready and all the pieces are in place. Weapon and money can be
supplied by the West, but soldier and people are what is lacking.
They cannot afford to risk sacrificing their young people recklessly
without adequate air coverage.
They know it is not the right time to launch the attack. If they
rush into it now, the chance of success is limited. If they do well,
then the West will say there is no need for F16 Fighter Jets. If they
were to do poorly, there will be no sense sending them those things
Ukraine is working hard to get the Fighter Jets. They know it is
coming by the end of the year. Their pilots are trained and public
opinion in the West is prepared. At first, the West said they were not
supplying F16 to Ukraine. Now they say the planes will come by the
end of the year. They need to test the water and see how Russia
accept and respond to it. Seeing Russia's moot response, they are
now encouraged to do so by the end of the year.
Realistically, Ukraine won't start the counter-offensive
until next year when all the
pieces are in place and the weather and ground conditions are right and
when Russia is getting ready for the presidential election.
That will provide time for Russia to make more mistakes by purging
experienced generals; to continue to indulge in the belief that they
are holding the defense line and doing well in thwarting Ukraine's
They want Russia to get used to Ukraine's attacking targets deep
inside its own country. By bombing a bridge here and there; a
building in Moscow's financial district; the airports; gas and energy
depots; ammunition and weapons manufacturing hubs; military bases;
naval warships and other assets in the Black Sea; causing mysterious
fires (likely by sabotage) at random, they are practicing their
targeting, their drone and missiles operation and force Russian
commanders to make painful choices.
So Ukraine is returning the war to Russia's own territory.
They want Russia and the world to gradually become accustomed to
these kinds of strange events in Russia.
Zelenskyy is a very smart person. He is making preparations on both
fronts. While Ukraine is practically part of NATO, he continued to
complain about NATO not providing a clear road map. That is a tactic
to push the West to give more weapons, especially the F16 Jets. After
those complaints, more ammunition was promised. The West has now
confirmed that the F16 Jets are coming by year-end after seeing no
negative response in public opinion.
Now that Zelenskyy found that his charm with Western leaders has
evaporated, he is sending his admirable First Lady Olena Zelenska to
work on Western media and politicians. She was especially successful
in South Korea and Japan.
Ukraine's prime target is to take back Crimea. They only have one chance
to succeed. They are aware of that, and they have to do it right.
Furthermore, they are holding the better-trained and equipped troops
in reserve for Crimea.
They are testing the weakness of Crimean defenses and preparing and
shaping the battlefield.
They invested heavily on efforts to cutting off Russian supply lines,
ammunition, depots and logistics hubs. And above all, they needed to
sever Moscow's land bridge to the occupied Crimea. There are two
main bridges: the Chonhar road bridge connecting Crimea with
Russian-held parts of Kherson region in southern Ukraine; and the
Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea with Russia. Both had been targeted.
They need to secure a cleared pathway through the heavy minefields to
reach Crimea. The Nova Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper (Dnipro) River
that separates Ukrainian forces from Russian occupied land has been
destroyed. This removed one of Ukraine's greatest worry that Russia
may breach the dam and flood the field when Ukrainian soldiers are
crossing the river to attack Crimea.
Another important tactics of Ukraine was to deliberately target
Russian artillery pieces. As the war grinds on, artillery became one
of the most lethal and important element in the war. So far, Ukraine
has been quite successful in destroying Russian artillery units.
All these small but effective and necessary actions here and
there are just preparations for the main thrust. The real
counter-offensive will be next year around April when the weather
condition is suitable for ground operation. Indeed, Western
leader are now saying that Ukrainian pilots will not be ready until
early next year.
While Zelenskyy has demonstrated his exceptional strategic and
diplomatic ability, Putin has not shown his hand. His responses to
Ukraine's sporadic and frequent strikes within Russia have so far
been mute and tame. We know that tactical nuclear weapon is one of
his options and he will not hesitate to use it if his hold on Crimea
is under threat. But so far, he has let Dmitry Medvedev to do the
talking and posturing.
Russia's Possible response:
Russia is currently jamming Starlink signals in Crimea. If Russia is
suffering huge loss in Crimea, they might want to take out Starlink
satellites as a first step before finally resort to tactical nuclear
weapons. But attacking Starlink satellites would risk a direct conflict
with the US, while using a nuclear weapon would still be a localized
event limited to Ukraine. Russia might just resort to it directly.
Ukraine depended on SpaceX Starlink to direct its drones to attack
Russian ships and other targets. Elon Musk had known to have refused
Ukraine's request for Starlink services for such purpose.
Starlink enables drone pilots to cut down the time to find and strike a
target from 20 minutes to about a minute. Other satellite internet
providers cannot match the level of connectivity that Starlink gives.
Last year, he proposed a peace plan that Ukraine criticized as allowing
Russia to keep parts of occupied Ukrainian territory. There were
reports that the US government has been exerting pressure on Elon to
relax the restrictions imposed on Ukraine's use of Starlink services.
The greatest danger is, as former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who
has always raised the threat of a nuclear conflict over Ukraine, said
recently that Moscow would have to use a nuclear weapon if Kyiv's
ongoing counter-offensive was a success. If that happened, Putin may not
be able to keep this kind of talks in check. The most dangerous part is
that the West is dismissing it as a bluff.
Drone strikes inside Russia, sometimes within sight of the Kremlin
itself, had become a daily event and Russia seem to be able to live with
that. Those drone attacks may very well have been launched within
Russian territories itself. Russia's vulnerability is becoming more
obvious by the day.
Unless Russia can quickly ramp up its weapons production, depleting
military aircraft and dwindling supply of artillery batteries could
become a big problem when Ukraine finally launched the real
The West's Position and Plan:
Judging from Biden's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is obvious
that the US will not put boots on the ground and will not allow itself
to be entangled in any ground operation. Money is no problem. They can
print as much as they want. The world at large is footing the bill.
Sending ammunition and weapons is a boost for the defense industry and
is good for employment. Getting rid of the obsolete equipment makes room
for a modernized arsenal. There is no downside to it. But putting boots
on the ground is a definite no, no.
As of August 2023, Ukraine had received 70 Leopard-2 and 14 Challenger-2
tanks, with a further 21 Leopard-2 and 14 Challenger-2 tanks promised
from the West.
The US agreed to give 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but later decided
to send M1A1 Abrams tanks instead. As of July 2023, more than 3.7
thousand air defense missiles and over 1.6 thousand air defense systems
were transferred from the US.
In monetary terms, the U.S. military aids to Ukraine reached 42.8
billion Euros as of May 31, 2023. The US has also decided to provide
cluster munitions, and depleted uranium shells will come from Britain as
well. Cluster bombs have not helped the Russians achieve their objectives
in Ukraine, nor did the US gain much advantage in its wars in South East
Asia and Afghanistan. Perhaps it is a good way to get rid of obsolete
With Russia showing more of its weakness, the West is encouraged to take
bolder and bolder actions.
The situation is similar to a feral animal being driven into a narrow
blind alley by force. The result is predictable. With this background
and setup, the most horrible outcome of a nuclear conflict may not be