The current attempt at a counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine is at least the second attempt in four weeks. The first was supposed to begin in the tenth of August, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine covertly (as they thought) removed most of the heavy artillery from the fortified area of Marinka – Sands – Avdiivka and transferred to the south to create artillery superiority approximately in the area where the Armed Forces of Ukraine are advancing today. This transfer ended in disaster – the withdrawal of artillery was opened and, taking advantage of the lack of Ukrainian artillery, our troops went on the offensive – broke into Maryinka, occupied Peski and took the outskirts of Avdiivka.
At first, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine hoped that the counterattack near Kherson would force the Russian troops to stop and start transferring reserves from the Avdeevsky direction to Kherson, and feverishly prepared to attack, but already on the fourth day it became clear that if emergency measures were not taken, then the entire Marinka-Avdeevsky the Festung would fall, and the artillery was urgently thrown back again. Moreover, at least two battalion-tactical groups (BTG) of the reserves, as well as parts of the “special forces” of the special operations forces and detachments of mercenaries, had to be transferred there in order to stop the advance of the Russian assault detachments.
It took almost two weeks to stabilize the front. But Peski and most of Maryinka were lost, and the pressure of the Russian troops continued here, which forced the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to completely abandon the plan for concentrating artillery in the direction of the intended strike.
Military science and logic require under these conditions not to hurry with attempts to attack, but first to achieve the necessary numerical and technical superiority over the enemy. But political interests were placed above military arguments, and the offensive began. One of the arguments was the need to present at the meeting of defense ministers of NATO countries with the participation of Ukraine quite weighty successes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, capable of convincing the ministers that military assistance from NATO and the United States really changes the situation at the front and therefore it needs to be increased.
Of course, the factor that forced the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to rush the offensive was the information about the ending transfer to the border of Donbass of the newly formed volunteer army corps of the RF Armed Forces. His imminent appearance at the front would simply bury hopes for the success of the planned offensive.
The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was able to quickly transfer to the direction of the strike from the dispersal areas the brigades located there in reserve. And now, for two days now, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been trying to break through the defenses of the Russian troops and inflict such a defeat on them that can be passed off as an epic “overcome”.
On the first day, the enemy brought up to five BTGs into battle, trying to compensate for the artillery “hunger” with tactical surprise and combat operations in the dark. And almost immediately came under heavy artillery fire and Russian air strikes. Only in one place (the Posad Pokrovskoye area) did the Armed Forces of Ukraine manage to knock down the DPR militia reservists from their positions and occupy three small villages. In other areas, the advancing detachments of the Armed Forces of Ukraine could not achieve any clear success, losing in battles, according to various estimates, from 500 (estimated by Ukrainian sources) to 1200 people (estimated by the Russian command) killed, up to 50 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, two Su- 25 and two Mi-8 helicopters.
Such high losses and meager results cannot but cause changes in the future plans of the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And, above all, to assess the prospects for a further offensive in this area. On the one hand, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has at its disposal from 10 (conservative estimate) to 15 (maximum estimate) BTGs, up to 100 tanks, 200 infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and up to 150 self-propelled guns, MLRS, howitzers and 60 mortars. The strength is impressive. Moreover, these are well-rested and replenished with equipment and weapons received from Western patrons, as well as brigades newly formed in the western regions of Ukraine from soldiers and officers trained in Poland, Great Britain and Romania. In fact, the most combat-ready units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For the sake of their future success, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for two months plugged the gaps in the front with marching battalions of untrained reservists and TSOs, who were driven countless to the slaughter – and they died by the thousands.
And now Zelensky’s reserve corps, accumulated at such a terrible price, must show itself. But the first two days of the counter-offensive were extremely unsuccessful for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The losses are huge – the result is miserable. And the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine now faces a difficult choice: to continue the offensive against Kherson, introducing more and more new units into battle, stepping up efforts, under the dominance of Russian aviation, the superiority of Russians in artillery, in fact, across open space – the steppe? Or shift the blow to the north, to the Izyum-Balakleya region, where the terrain is more conducive to offensive operations?
There is a third option – to abandon the offensive in general and save reserves for the further defense of Nikolaev, Odessa, Zaporozhye, Kharkov.
We will find out in the very near future what decision the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will take. But it is unlikely that it will give up further attempts to attack. The political pressure on the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is too great and the temptation to “play for everything” is too great – no matter what. Neither the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine nor Zelensky’s office prefer to think about what will happen if the “overcome” does not happen, and the reserves for the next week – ten days – simply “run out”.