MARK GALEOTTI: Ukraine’s retaliation-offensive against Russian invaders is starting to have effect.

MARK GALEOTTI: Ukraine’s retaliation-offensive against Russian invaders is starting to have effect.

After months of stalemate, Ukraine’s counter-offensive against the Russian invaders has started to yield results. A message from an American general highlighted the changing situation, contradicting his earlier pessimistic outlook. Recent developments indicate that Ukrainian forces have successfully breached Russia’s initial defensive line near Zaporizhzhia in the southeast of the country. This breakthrough holds significant military importance and could potentially divide Russia’s occupied territory. It also challenges recent criticism from certain quarters about Ukrainian fighting tactics, emphasizing that such criticisms are unfounded.

Some critics, including voices within the German Ministry of Defence, suggested that Ukrainian troops were not effectively utilizing NATO tactics they had been taught. In Washington, there were concerns that senior Ukrainian officers were overly cautious about casualties, hindering their success. However, these critiques fail to consider the unique circumstances Ukraine faces, lacking the air and artillery superiority upon which NATO tactics are based. Furthermore, Ukraine’s 70,000 casualties, although fewer in number than Russia’s 120,000, must be viewed proportionately given the vast difference in population size between the two countries.

The timing of this breakthrough is crucial, as Western commentators have displayed a defeatist attitude lately, even suggesting negotiations with Vladimir Putin. Some Western governments have shown hesitancy in providing aid to Ukraine, partly due to domestic concerns. Ukraine’s economy has relied on Western financial aid, and its continuation is essential. Putin aims to prolong the conflict to deplete Western support. The recent positive development is expected to reinvigorate Western allies and Ukraine’s resilient population.

The breach of Russia’s first defensive line offers hope for further advancements, particularly in disrupting the critical land bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Russia. While the road ahead is challenging, history shows that defensive lines can crumble. Moscow has started shifting troops in response to the pressure, moving them from Kherson to the west and Lyman to the northeast. The outcome of this recent advance will shape the war’s final result, injecting much-needed momentum before heavy winter rains make significant progress extremely difficult.

A British intelligence source expressed optimism, predicting that “by the time the Ukrainian offensive pauses for the winter, Russian supply lines will be under their guns.” This development offers hope for Ukraine and its allies, bringing the conflict one step closer to resolution.

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