What was indicated on Friday was confirmed over the Pentecost weekend: Ukrainian troops launched a surprising counter-offensive in the embattled city of Sievjerodonetsk in Luhansk. Some observers say that the Ukrainians have lured the Russian troops into a trap (more on this here).
This counteroffensive was thwarted again on Monday by Russian troops – above all pro-Russian militias are probably deployed in the city to protect Moscow’s well-trained core troops. There are street fights, both sides are currently suffering heavy losses.
This begs the question: How much longer can both sides keep this up? An answer largely depends on how many troops are still available. Experts largely agree that Russia has concentrated almost all of its combat power in the Donbass, which is why there are no major advances elsewhere in Ukraine.
40,000 to 60,000 Russian soldiers are said to be deployed in the Donbass (the map by Twitter user Jomini shows where they are). Ukraine, on the other hand, is said to defend with 10,000 to 20,000 soldiers. Kyiv is in the dilemma of having to secure the fronts to the north, north-east, south and even west on the Transnistrian border.
A military rule of thumb states that for a successful offensive, the attacker must outnumber at least three times. This is Russia. And that also distinguishes the offensive in Donbass from the attack on Kyiv. Admittedly, Moscow probably doesn’t have many more troops up its sleeve.
As the US military expert Michael Kofman estimates, “only” around 80,000 soldiers were originally involved in the invasion of Ukraine (here is his detailed analysis). The advance in the Donbass is therefore probably the last major offensive by Russia.
But given the current losses – up to 100 soldiers are currently losing their lives in the Donbass every day, says Zelenskyj, and around 500 are injured – the Ukrainians could soon have too few fighters. At that moment the war would freeze until the armies are operational again.
Ukraine had actually announced a major counter-offensive for June. That will hardly be sustainable. Experts are currently expecting a start in late summer or early autumn. This shows that the end of the war is not in sight any time soon.
Another external reading recommendation: The team of journalists from “Zeit” investigated why the Chancellery is so hesitant about helping Ukraine. The result: The reasons go back to the time before the Ukraine war. But current issues also play a role: “Some government representatives (in Berlin) express concern that a government in Kyiv could allow itself to be carried away in national exuberance “in the tunnel” or under public pressure into irrational actions – such as the use of German weapons for attacks on Russian territory.” (click here for the text).
1. How Putin wants to bring the West to its knees “The mood in the Kremlin is that we can’t lose” According to a US newspaper report, Russia is optimistic that the West will soon drop Ukraine. For this, Putin wants to use two means of pressure.
2. Slogans of helplessness: Russia must not win, Ukraine must not lose – what does that mean? The point of a war is victory. And as long as nothing implodes in the Kremlin, it’s hard to imagine that the goal will be abandoned. A guest post.
3. Inadequate supplies and poor weapons: Morale is also falling in some areas of Kiev’s troops – the first soldiers are deserting President Zelenskyj reports that around 100 soldiers are killed every day. If you believe the Ukrainians in Donbass, some of them could be prevented.
4. What Russia’s war requires: Europe’s unwillingness to improve defense capabilities must end It has been clear for years that the EU has been criminally neglecting armaments issues. It’s paying off now. But we know what to do. A guest post.
5. War in Ukraine – winning or just not losing? Baerbock and Merz rely on confidence, Scholz on fear of risk With Western help, Ukraine will win the war. More confidence in their own strength also helps the Germans persevere. A comment.