Ukraine Update


  • Russia transferring troops to the south and the Kherson regions
  • Or is the Ukraine’s plan to attack elsewhere?
  • And is it the American long-range HIMARS or tanks and infantry that will win the war?

On the face of it there hasn’t been that much happening in the Russo-Ukraine war over the past few weeks. Not unless you’re caught up in the thick of it, of course. The attritional grind in the Donbas region continues with neither side making any notable gains. Here it is mainly an artillery battle, fought at long range and involving the expenditure of vast amounts of ammunition.

Meanwhile, attention has shifted to the south and the Kherson oblast, where the Ukrainians have been telegraphing their intention to mount a counter-offensive for some weeks (and which I predicted as far back as early March). This has resulted in Russia transferring troops there in significant numbers to meet the expected onslaught, weakening their efforts in the Donbas.

I don’t think the Ukrainians are at a stage in terms of equipment or training where a properly coordinated all-arms strategic counter-offensive is feasible, not yet anyway. There is always the possibility, of course, that this is a Ukrainian feint, and that they intend eventually to strike elsewhere. They may be applying the Russian practice of maskirovka, roughly translated as deception and/or camouflage, thereby turning the tables on their adversaries.

Finally, there has been much hoo-hah about the impact of the American long-range HIMARS system on the battlefield. Although only sixteen systems have been delivered to Ukraine so far, there’s no doubt it has gone some way to redress the artillery balance. Its ability to strike some seventy kilometres plus in to the Russian forces’ rear areas has resulted in significant damage to the invaders. Britain and Germany have also weighed in with some of the tracked equivalent, the MRLS system, which fires the same ammunition.

However, the impact of such a wunderwaffe (wonder weapon) should not be overemphasised. Wars, and battles, are generally won by land forces occupying ground and winkling out the enemy from their positions. Lobbing a few missiles or guided shells at the bad guys can prepare the ground, but in the end it’s the tanks and infantry and their supporting arms who usually settle the score.

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