Sunday September 11, 2022

Breakthrough for Ukraine in the east

Breakthrough for Ukraine in the east

The early setback for the Russian troops was their failed onslaught on Kyiv with their miscalculated logistics.

After the successful defence of Kyiv in March/April, when the Russian column of armoured cars and tanks got struck in a single column on the road to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, comes the news of the first breakthrough for Ukraine on its eastern and southern fronts with its troops regaining about 1000 km of its territory which was under the occupation of Soviet troops, especially near the eastern city of Kharkiv.

In the early phase of the war, Russian artillery bombarded the city and razed many of its buildings to the ground.

The Ukrainian troops now seem to be within a striking distance of a key railway station which serves as the reinforcement line for Russians troops from Moscow.

But there is no independent confirmation of the Ukrainian success on the eastern front because journalists have not been allowed. But Russian television has shown the head of the Russian-installed occupation administration in Kharkiv, Vitaly Ganchev say, “The very fact of a breach of our defences is already a substantial victory for the Ukrainian armed forces.”

Russian forces were trying to evacuate wounded personnel and damaged equipment from Kharkiv, according to the Ukrainian general staff. “Thanks to skilful and coordinated actions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with the support of the local population, advanced almost 50 km in three days,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a statement.

The Americans were cautious in their appraisal of the breakthrough. The US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, said at a news conference in Prague, “We see success in Kherson now, we see some success in Kharkiv and so, that is very, very encouraging.”

The Russian side then has confirmed that the Ukrainian forces had had a breakthrough which is significant. Russians are reinforcing the troops in the area. This implies that there will be resistance from the Russian side, and it is not yet time for celebration of Ukrainian victory. But there is no denying the fact that it is a morale booster for the Ukrainians who have been fighting a bigger military power like Russia.

The Russians had hoped when the war began on February 24 to run through Ukraine in a blitzkrieg. That has not happened. The early setback for the Russian troops was their failed onslaught on Kyiv with their miscalculated logistics.

It is a fact that the Americans have kept a steady flow of arms supplies, which included sophisticated weaponry. But the Ukrainians have put the arms to good use by putting up a doughty resistance. It seems that Ukrainian defence is now turning into a counter-onslaught. The Russian side seems apparently clueless at this point of time about how to execute the war. Clearly the Russians did not expect fiery and determined resistance from the Ukrainians, the troops as well the people. And the American arms supplies only strengthened the Ukrainian resolve.

The war is of course not at an end. The breakthrough that the Ukrainian forces have achieved in Kharkiv and near Kherson still needs to be consolidated and further movement into the east and south of Ukraine remains to be made. The Russians are unlikely to give up battle because of this setback.

They might put in more troops on the battlefield. But it seems that the Ukrainian forces are better focused than their Russian counterparts. President Zelensky believes that he must retrieve the whole of eastern Ukraine under Russian occupation, including Crimea, and that might seem quite unrealistic. But he is determined. This is akin to Russia’s initial war aim of disarming Ukraine and replacing the government in Kyiv. But Zelensky has ruled out any compromise on territorial claims of Russia. The test now lies with the Russian military strength. Can it fight the war against the determined people of Ukraine?

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