Espreso. Global

Ukraine’s success in Bakhmut is matter of time, cluster munitions are needed for major frontline changes: military results of the week

1 July, 2023 Saturday

The main takeaways from the interview with Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Zaluzhnyi, the Defense Forces continue leading the offensive, and the US is seriously considering the supply of ATACMS and cluster munitions – read more in the military summary of the week

Military expert Serhiy Zgurets has unveiled his latest assessment of the frontline situation in Ukraine.

Takeaways from Zaluzhnyi's interview

Zaluzhnyi's interview is quite tough, straightforward, and uncompromising. He said that we need more weapons, we need more aircraft, because all doctrines, including NATO's, provide for air dominance and only then offensive operations. We act the way we have to act in these conditions. Zaluzhnyi spoke about the need for ammunition, because Russia still has an advantage - on some days it is ten times greater. He also said that the enemy is threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons, and he says that we will fight and it does not scare us. The main takeaways are that Ukraine needs more weapons, Ukraine lacks aviation, and despite all the threats, Ukraine is still making progress on the front line. Even if it looks slow, it is shaped by the capabilities we have now and the tactics the Ukrainian Armed Forces choose to ensure the destruction of the enemy and the preservation of our lives.

Zelenskyy's pressure on NATO

The President is urging NATO leaders to establish a clear timeline and specific conditions for Ukraine's membership. Dialogue with the countries does not stop, as intermediate options are also being offered - interim security guarantees, guarantees from individual countries, military and economic support. Without joining NATO, all these options will be intermediate. Currently, European countries are showing sufficient impetus to provide us with economic assistance. As for military assistance, the process of support is ongoing, but the tasks facing the Ukrainian Armed Forces are larger and the current level of aid falls short of the challenges they face.

Ukrainian Armed Forces offensive in the southern direction and Bakhmut, operations near the Dnipro River, Kherson region

The destruction of a significant number of Russian artillery (over 620 units per month) and air defense systems (56) during the offensive represents a peak compared to previous periods, highlighting the effectiveness of our strategy to lure out reserves, destroy artillery and air defense systems. The ongoing offensive since June 4 has resulted in advance of up to 10 km in some areas, but all the actions are taking place along the line against the main Russian fortifications. This does not mean that something is going wrong. On the contrary, the frontline is expanding, forcing the Russians to redirect their reserves to the most vulnerable areas and expose their artillery, resulting in their subsequent destruction. This shows our concept of advancement in the south. We are trying to break through the defense without air power through a ground solution and artillery. This determines our approaches along the entire section of the Zaporizhzhia frontline, first of all.

In the southern region, Ukrainian offensive is focused on two primary directions: Tokmak, spanning from Orikhiv to Melitopol, and Berdiansk, stretching from Velyka Novosilka towards the Azov coast. Advancing from Orikhiv, we have approached the defense line in Robotyne, where the Russians are making efforts to maintain their positions.

In the Velyka Novosilka area, specifically in the settlements of Pryiutne and Urozhaine, intense fighting is taking place. The Russian forces are attempting to impede the progress of our units and mobilize their reserves. Notably, special forces brigades have already been deployed as reserves, with two such brigades positioned in Robotyne. This indicates that the enemy is now employing all available reserves at their disposal. From the perspective of the planned actions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, the current situation appears both logical and predictable.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are also trying to put pressure on Russian troops around Bakhmut. Offensive actions are being carried out in almost all directions. However, the situation in that area is complex, as the enemy has recently begun relocating units, including from the Lyman direction, in an attempt to impede the Ukrainian offensive. Reserves are being redirected towards Berkhivka and Klishchiivka to hinder the advancement of Ukrainian units towards the heights they currently occupy. I think that a turning point and eventual success for our forces are merely a matter of time.  

On June 30, Berdiansk, a crucial hub for Russian reinforcements along the entire southern front, was targeted in a strike. The attack utilized a Storm Shadow missile, targeting warehouses and headquarters. It seems that the tactic of targeting and destroying critical infrastructure and key facilities deep within the enemy's defense will persist. This approach was also witnessed in the case of Chongar. This tactic serves as the second component of Ukraine’s offensive strategy. Initially, artillery is used to obliterate targets in the first line of defense, and subsequently, the second component involves focusing on the enemy's rear areas .

There are many expectations that the Ukrainian Armed Forces will launch an offensive in the Kherson area. These conclusions are too optimistic, because it is very difficult to ensure landing across the river and to decide on the logistics of the landing. Ukraine’s special forces are acting in this direction and they will continue to distract the enemy.Their objective is to create distractions and compel the enemy to redirect their reserves, which were previously deployed to other areas. The Kherson direction continues to pose uncertainties and concerns for Russia, while holding promising prospects for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The US supplying ATACMS and cluster munitions will serve as a catalyst for frontline changes, Poland signals its desire to be more powerful

All American politicians emphasize that the supply of ATACMS missiles to Ukraine will strengthen our ability to resist Russia. The Pentagon spokesman said he had no information on the subject yet. The supply of ATACMS is timely and the political background in the United States has changed significantly in support of this step. Missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers can make a significant difference in terms of destroying important enemy targets. The supply of cluster munitions is also being discussed. Each such 155-mm shell replaces a dozen high-explosive shells currently used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Currently, the US has provided us with about 2 million rounds of 155-mm ammunition, but there remains a significant need for further supplies. Given Ukraine’s declining stockpiles, the reliance on cluster munitions appears to be a justifiable option, as the US currently possess approximately 3 million in stock. The decision to supply these stockpiles in the near future is what we desperately need to make substantial changes on the battlefield. Ukraine relies on artillery to break through the enemy's defense. The demand for artillery ammunition will undoubtedly escalate as we encounter stronger fortifications. I think that the decisions on both ATACMS and cluster munitions will be a guaranteed basis for crucial changes on the battlefield and support for our offensive.

This is the second time that Poland has asked NATO and the US to consider deploying nuclear weapons on its territory. Currently, there are five European countries that host bases where NATO's tactical nuclear weapons are stored. Poland aims to become the sixth nation to do so, driven by concerns over the actions of Russia and Belarus. I have little faith that the US will agree to expand the number of nuclear weapons bases, as the existing arrangement in Europe may already be deemed satisfactory by American officials. Poland's signal for the need to enhance its military power, potentially even with a nuclear component, is evident. 

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