Espreso. Global

Lifting ban on Western weapons strikes on Russia is yielding first results. Serhiy Zgurets' сolumn

4 June, 2024 Tuesday

The use of American weapons to destroy Russian complexes will reduce Russia's ability to accumulate military capabilities near Ukraine's northern borders with impunity


Destruction of Russian air defense systems on Russian territory

The lifting of the ban on strikes with Western weapons against Russia is already yielding first results. On June 3, many people saw beautiful photos and videos showing the results of a successful HIMARS attack on Russian S-300 and S-400 air defense systems located in the Belgorod region, about 60 kilometers from Ukraine's border with Russia. Two launchers and support vehicles were destroyed, and the radar station of this complex was also disabled.

Russia is using these S-300 and S-400 air defense systems to strike air and ground targets on Ukrainian territory, including the city of Kharkiv. Therefore, the use of American weapons to destroy such complexes, particularly in the Belgorod and Kursk regions, is at least a half-step in the right direction by Ukraine's partners, if not a full step. This will reduce Russia's ability to amass military capabilities near Ukraine's northern borders with impunity.

Russian losses

At the same time, there were slightly fewer combat clashes along the entire frontline over the past day, June 2, than usual - 60. Let me remind you that the peak values recently reached 150 combat clashes per day. So we can conclude that the Russian units are exhausted. But I do not rule out that Russia is now forced to regroup after suffering significant losses in manpower and equipment. Summarizing the data from the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff, in May, the occupying Russian forces lost a record number of personnel - 58,940 people. This is an absolutely record-breaking figure for Russian personnel losses since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

We know that Russia is currently recruiting about 30,000 personnel per month to replenish its losses. And to maintain this pace, the Russian regions have significantly increased one-time payments for signing a contract.

In May, the Ukrainian Armed Forces also destroyed a significant amount of Russian artillery - 1,160 pieces. This is also an absolute record for the entire period of a full-scale war. First and foremost, this is the result of counter-battery combat. That is, the use of Ukrainian artillery, which has a longer range and greater accuracy against Russian self-propelled howitzers and towed artillery. Moreover, the number of Russian casualties began to increase in the second half of May, when Ukraine had a better supply of shells.

But for the sake of objectivity, I should add that in May Russia was also actively hunting for Ukraine's weapons using Lancets, mostly at a distance of 20-40 kilometers from the contact line. Russia's Lancets pose a serious threat. They are based on data collected by reconnaissance drones such as Orlan and Zala. Destroying these Russian eyes in the sky is now a priority for both Ukrainian industrial and military teams.

It's actually hard to believe, but Russian reconnaissance drones are being destroyed by FPV drones. There is a video where an FPV drone attacks the Russian Zala and the Russian Orlan unmanned aerial vehicle. I don't know how our Ukrainian soldiers managed to do this, given a number of limitations. Because these Russian UAVs are difficult to detect, they have a much higher altitude compared to conventional FPV targets. They also have a higher speed compared to ground targets. But we can see that there is a result. I do not think that this method of fighting the Orlans and Zalas will be the main one, but such capabilities need to be developed.

On the format of authorizations for the use of Western weapons on the territory of the Russian Federation

Viktor Kevliuk, a military expert at the Center for Defense Strategies, colonel with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that he could not find any mention of the fact that in the history of the last 100 years of wars, the provision of lethal weapons was accompanied by certain restrictions on its use. As for the format of the permits, Germany, Italy, and Belgium currently categorically prohibit the use of the weapons they provide on Russia's territory. Switzerland remains formally neutral, but the parliament has voted in favor of a ban on military assistance to Ukraine. France, the United Kingdom, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Canada - 13 countries in total - have authorized the use of weapons.

The best illustration of the difference between authorization and no authorization is Crimea, which Ukraine's partners consider to be the territory of Ukraine and no restrictions are in place there. Russia's air defense system is effectively destroyed to the point of inoperability. In addition, Russia has a lot of problems in aviation, at airfields based in Crimea. Ukraine could have the same picture in the operational rear on the continental territory of Russia.

Situation on the front line

The officer explained that today the Russian army, having started fighting in the Kharkiv sector, tried to launch a supporting strike to constrain part of the Ukrainian group in the northeast and bring Ukrainian reserves into the battle. They did not succeed, and has gained an additional section of the front where it cannot solve its operational tasks and is forced to throw in reserves that it lacks in other parts of the front.

Most likely, the narrative of such actions of the invaders is an attempt to conceal the direction of the main attack in the summer offensive campaign. It seems that Russia is choosing between Kurakhove, Pokrovsk and Kramatorsk directions. The next three months of summer will be the most intense and challenging for Ukraine. However, the increasing assistance from the partners will allow Ukraine to withstand it with minimal territorial losses.

The reserve colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces noted that the core components of the Defense Forces should primarily include a change in approaches to the use of forces and means, improved planning, obtaining the necessary weapons to perform tasks and the comprehensive use of operations, including engineering.

Assistance of foreign instructors

The military expert of the Center for Defense Strategies added about foreign instructors, noting that they did not appear in Ukraine yesterday, but back in 2014. This is a way for Ukraine's partners to express their support without directly participating in hostilities. Accordingly, when Ukraine receives Western weapons, someone has to train Ukrainian soldiers, so representatives of the countries where these weapons are produced do it. By the way, last year Ukraine's partners trained 100,000 Ukrainian servicemen at their training bases and with the help of their instructors. It is unlikely that Ukraine's Armed Forces training system is capable of training 100,000 personnel.

Mobilization in Russia

Kevliuk emphasized that Russia recruits 25-30 thousand new men every month, which allows it to cover losses at the front and increase its numbers somewhere else. There is no reason to believe that Russia can significantly increase its component for an offensive operation in Ukraine without mobilization. In some regions of Russia, payments to citizens who sign military service contracts are increasing. This is evidence that the recruitment system in Russia is experiencing serious difficulties, and it is becoming increasingly hard for them to find new candidates for military service. Therefore, the issue of Russian mobilization is open, and the decision to announce mobilization in Russia will be made following the results of the summer campaign, sometime in early fall.

For its part, Ukraine has to physically destroy the Russian enemy so that its recruitment system cannot keep up with replenishment, and to conduct small-scale, short-term operations in all dimensions of the combat space in order to intimidate potential candidates, making them realize that nothing but death awaits them in Ukraine. Perhaps then a potential recruit will choose life over money.

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