ua en ru

Defense or counteroffensive? Ukraine's prospects on front line

Defense or counteroffensive? Ukraine's prospects on front line Ukraine may be mostly on defense this spring (Getty Images)

There won't be any surprises by our side this spring on the front line as it will mainly involve conducting defensive operations. It's a defensive tactic that will force us to adapt to conditions of acute shortages of ammunition and Russian dominance both in terms of personnel and mechanized components, as well as in the air.

What to expect on the front line this spring, what the situation will depend on by the end of 2024, and whether the Ukraine Defense Forces will be able to shift to a counteroffensive at the level of the previous year explained by a military and political expert of the Information Resistance Group, Oleksandr Kovalenko.

Our society should be prepared for the fact that this tactic involves withdrawing from certain locations if the situation there becomes critical. This means there may be losses of certain sections along the front line. We'll have to choose the most advantageous positions to inflict maximum losses on the enemy with minimal losses on our side. Our main task in the near future is to wear down the enemy until we receive sufficient assistance from our partners to at least create parity in the confrontation zone.

The Russians will attempt to advance throughout this time. They understand their advantages and our weaknesses, primarily related to artillery and the proportional distribution of ammunition. Therefore, they will try to probe every part of the front line where they can gain some advantage. The situation will primarily develop at the level of positional battles, although there are also some risky areas.

The Russians will try to push on all fronts this spring, starting from Kupiansk and ending with the South. Primarily, it is about the Zaporizhzhia region and clearing Krynky. They will also try to gain control over Novomykhailivka. They will push on Chasiv Yar, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Klishchiivka, and Andriivka near Bakhmut.

Additionally, they need to create a safety buffer and consolidate near Avdiivka. After that, they can redistribute resources to other directions, most likely either towards the Lymansk front or reinforce troops in the Kupiansk direction. However, they will only be able to intensify the offensive on Kupiansk and Chasiv Yar after the elections in the Russian Federation, mobilization. So, only by fall will they have sufficient resources to advance on these settlements.

They intend to start a new wave of attack on Vuhledar this year. But for this, they need to create the appropriate conditions to block Vuhledar not only from the south but also from the north. It is unlikely that they will succeed through Novomykhailivka or Pobieda. Most likely, they will try to break through to road 0532 from Solodke to Vodiane. However, they will need to stabilize their flanks, so it is unlikely that they will succeed any time soon. If they advance only from the south, it will end as previous attempts - unsuccessfully and with significant losses.

This year, Ukraine does not have the conditions to conduct an offensive operation similar to the one we were preparing for in the South last year as it is necessary to restore the supply of weapons at least to the level of 2022-2023 and even more. It will not only allow us to form a full-fledged defensive strategy but also plan counteroffensive operations with the formation of reserves to support these counteroffensive operations.

If aid from the United States is not provided by November, Ukraine will remain on the defensive for the whole year. The resources we currently have and receive will allow us to remain in defense throughout this year. Depending on the level of adaptation to limited resources, we will be able to hold out until the end of the year with the supplies we receive. But we will have to abandon certain positions. If the aid is greater, we will be able to more effectively conduct defensive operations. However, to carry out counteroffensive actions, we need an increase in assistance to the level of 2022-2023 or even more, but it is possible only if the United States finally "returns to the family."

By the end of the year, Europe may reach levels of support that can partially compensate for the lack of American assistance. Moreover, other countries in the world have not yet used their potential to help Ukraine. On the diplomatic level, these countries will be worked on by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the prospect of transferring armament.

Oleksandr Kovalenko for RBC-Ukraine