Ukraine/Russia war of attrition
.... has become a war of trees, with advances counted in hundreds of metres. Artillery fire and drones dominate the battlefield, as small groups of infantry advance through minefields, field by field, tree line by tree line. Progress has been slower than expected, as acknowledged by President Zelensky and now former Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov. However, Ukraine’s recent gains illustrate that it has worn down Russian defenses over time, leveraging an advantage in long-range precision weapons to steadily press Russian forces back from their defensive positions. Ukraine will break through Russian lines and exploit that success to reach the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian forces crossed the Dnieper river last week, three brigade strength, in armoured vehicles. Much could be decided in the coming weeks.
There is no single resolution to the challenges Ukraine faces. The problem cannot be due to a lack of Western tactical aviation. The more important factors remain ammunition, training, providing the necessary leaders, and effective resource management in a war of attrition. War requires regular adaptation, since few plans survive contact with the enemy, requiring identifying what works and what has not. The ability to discuss these challenges openly (which doesn’t include leaks to newspapers from behind a veil of anonymity) is
Wehrmacht hanomags near Korsun-Cherkassy, Ukraine 1943
what separates successful armies from those like Russia’s, which often falsifies success and buries bad news. Indeed, a poor understanding of how Ukraine’s military fights, and of the operating environment, may be leading to false expectations and unfair criticism from Western circles.
Ukraine’s summer offensive is coming down to the balance of attrition over time, which side has more reserves, and who can better manage their attacks in a prolonged fight. In order to sustain Ukraine’s war effort, Washington should support Kyiv’s preferred approach, which means providing ammunition for an intensive fight, providing the requisite long-range strike systems, and supporting leaders. However, it should also learn from this experience, tackling long-term issues such as training, helping Ukraine improve its ability to conduct operations at scale, and transitioning to employ Western airpower along with the associated organizational changes to make it effective. It is also critical for Western countries to draw the correct lessons from the development of Ukraine’s new brigades to improve future training efforts.
900 Russian soldiers were killed and 106 armoured vehicles destroyed last week in a failed attempt to retake a ruin, General Winter will interdict offensive actions until next May 2024.
No empire has captured or dominated the Ukrainian/Russian steppes. Germany was defeated on the Eastern Front, the same territory that defeated countless hordes from the time of Genghis Khan to the present day. General winter will freeze the battle lines with major offensives interdicted.
Russia is intent on destroying Ukraine their need for ammunition is of concern to Ukraine's allies because the EU and the US need ammunition to offset Russia's long term aim to destabilise the West.