Espreso. Global

Ukrainian forces' possible withdrawal from Avdiivka, staff changes during hostilities: weekly military results by Serhiy Zgurets

10 February, 2024 Saturday

The issue of replacing the leadership of Ukraine's Armed Forces came at a difficult time. This decision is not unambiguous due to the lack of a clear explanation as to why General Valerii Zaluzhnyi could not fulfill the tasks that were set for the present and future. Most likely, it was political factors that influenced the general's resignation, not remarks on certain events on the battlefield


Zaluzhnyi's resignation and the appointment of Syrskyi

All the actions of the Armed Forces in previous years demonstrated that there was trust in the general, the dynamics of change in the Armed Forces, the build-up of capabilities, a vision of the future with the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief on technological solutions, and most importantly, the trust of the entire military environment in Zaluzhnyi. He was extremely popular.

Preparation for offensive actions is the responsibility of all authorities, including the Commander-in-Chief's Headquarters with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. It is important that not only the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, should influence changes and the situation on the front line. There is a strict chain of command. The President has named new, well-known generals and brigade commanders who are to join Syrskyi's team. We hope that a symbiosis will be formed that will combine Syrskyi's determination, achievement of goals, victories at any cost and approaches based on the new, flexible experience of young generals.

Although Syrskyi also has significant experience. In particular, he has conducted a number of offensive operations to liberate Kyiv, two operations in the Kharkiv region, and has vast experience in planning operations. That is, there are both advantages and difficulties in replacing the command. It is important to see how the situation in the Armed Forces will develop with the new leadership. This year, however, the main emphasis will probably be on defense, fortification, training of reserves, and the introduction of new technological methods of warfare. This will be the basis of the defense plan for the current year. However, the plan is being formed based on the external reality, when Ukraine faces limited ammunition supplies, exhaustion of brigades, and lack of replenishment. All this is now affecting the front line. Therefore, it is an exaggeration to say that Syrskyi alone will change the situation on the battlefield.

Commander-in-Chief Syrskyi's team

The appointment of the Commander of the Land Forces and the Chief of the General Staff is expected in the near future. General Anatoliy Barhylevych, who previously headed the Territorial Defense Forces, has been appointed as the new Chief of the General Staff. First Deputy Minister of Defense General Oleksandr Pavliuk may be appointed as the commander of the Land Forces instead of Oleksandr Syrskyi.

Personnel changes during the period of hostilities, in a crucial period, can somehow slow down the adoption of certain staff decisions. However, the main task today is to ensure the sustainability of defense. We are talking about fortifications, reserves and ammunition. Military and political leaders who have contacts with Ukraine's Western and American partners should work on this.

Frontline situation: Avdiivka

Russia is now focusing on attacking the main supply line that feeds Ukraine's grouping in Avdiivka itself. The situation has been extremely difficult for three days. Fighting continues in the urban area of Avdiivka. The Ukrainian side is using reserves. The Russian army is also preparing reserves to put pressure on this area to make it as difficult as possible to use logistics routes. That is, the fighting continues in the north of Avdiivka, a little higher, above the coke plant itself and along the entire arc that now surrounds Avdiivka. Therefore, it is likely that Ukraine will have to ensure the withdrawal of certain Ukrainian units and find the right options for relocating them to the next defense lines. Russia's superiority is being observed, so the dynamics are quite alarming and critical.

The situation in Avdiivka is now a challenge for the new team leading the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Although we understand that this is a consequence of many things that relate to time and miscalculations of the Ukrainian side, in terms of preparing forces and means for combat operations and the superior Russian potential, the attacking group.

How mass mobilization can affect the demographic situation in Ukraine

Now we have an extremely small number of men aged 25-27. Men aged 40 will bear the brunt of the fighting. This statistic is now seen in almost all combat brigades. We cannot rely on the younger part of the population, as the age pyramid demonstrates. Against this backdrop, the issue of retaining personnel is a top priority. It is important that Syrskyi's list of priorities includes personnel retention and rotation. 

Without technological approaches, Ukraine will not be able to ensure parity in combat with its enemy. Technological solutions, ranging from robotic platforms, drones, and the use of long-range systems, are coming to the fore. Ukraine really has to look for solutions in an afterburner mode that allow it to conduct combat operations and ensure an asymmetric advantage over the Russian enemy, which is extremely difficult.

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