Russian troops are intentionally directing their efforts toward causing maximum damage and destruction to the Western-supplied military equipment of Ukraine, according to General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who is leading the counter-offensive in the south.
Ukrainian troops launched a counter-offensive on the southern frontline in Zaporizhia a month ago. Using Western-supplied vehicles, they are attacking multiple fronts to regain control and push back the Russian forces.
However, while carrying out their counter-offensive, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have faced intense opposition. Russian forces have reportedly employed various tactics, including minefields and conducting extensive aerial operations involving aviation and missile strikes.
In an interview with US-based channel ABC News on July 3, Tarnavskyi said that the current situation could be described as a highly intense confrontation where the Ukrainian Armed Forces are engaged with an opponent who is making extensive use of minefields, anti-tank weaponry, and conducting large-scale air operations that involve aviation and missile strikes.
Moscow appears to be hell-bent on destroying weapon systems provided by Western allies.
Tarnavskyi said, “The Russians are specifically targeting Western equipment. They are trying to destroy as many vehicles as possible. It’s a priority for them.”
Similarly, in a separate interview, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stated that numerous units of Western equipment had been destroyed during the counter-offensive.
He said deploying these assets was not intended for mere parades or photo opportunities with politicians and celebrities but rather for active engagement in warfare.
Zaluzhnyi explained that a German-made Leopard tank is not simply regarded as a tank but as a prominent (Western) target for enemy forces on the battlefield. He also highlighted that Ukraine requires additional aviation assets and a greater supply of shells to fight Russia.
Zaluzhnyi said that he has already discussed these urgent needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States.
Ukraine Goes Slow
The pace of progress in Ukraine’s counter-offensive has been considerably slower than the rapid speed of the initial fall counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region, which caught Russian forces off guard.
However, in recent days, Ukraine claimed to have achieved some gains in the vicinity of Bakhmut, the eastern city where Ukraine suffered a considerable number of casualties in their failed attempts to capture it.
Additionally, Kyiv asserted that it established a small foothold on the eastern side of the Dnieper River, which is currently under Russian control, opposite Kherson.
According to Ukrainian commanders and officials, the objective is to gradually wear down the Russian forces, creating a strategic breakthrough that can be capitalized on by Ukraine’s main counter-offensive force.
The Ukrainian military leaders have said that they have yet to fully deploy all of the brigades assembled for the counter-offensive or fully utilize the weaponry provided by their Western allies.
“The main thing is that we haven’t reached our full potential,” Tarnavskiy said.
Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, also alleged that the current developments align with the pre-established plans devised and endorsed for the counter-offensive.
But the sluggish pace of progress has prompted certain pessimistic evaluations regarding the future outcome of the counter-offensive.
Ukrainian officials and numerous independent analysts affirm that the ongoing situation represents only the initial phase. The initial phase was always anticipated to be the most arduous and demanding segment of the overall strategy.
The Russian forces have fortified positions along an extensive front line spanning thousands of miles. So far, Kyiv has declared the recapture of at least seven villages.
As a part of its strategy, Ukrainian forces employ small platoons that rely on the element of surprise, utilizing it as a strategic advantage. When their operations are successful, they achieve gradual advancements in territorial acquisition and valuable battlefield intelligence.
Yet, military experts believe determining who currently holds the advantage is challenging. Russia has entrenched positions supported by ample manpower and ammunition, while Ukraine possesses versatility and modern weaponry, demonstrating tactical ingenuity on the battlefield.
Nevertheless, one undeniable fact is that Moscow has adapted its tactics to the situation. By employing drones, artillery strikes, and aviation attacks, they have effectively impeded the advancements of enemy forces.