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How Ukraine is preparing to launch its crucial counterattack against Russia: “They are going for Crimea”

Ukraine Live key days. The arrival of spring and the accumulation of weapons delivered by the West during the winter make the launch of their long-awaited counterattack against the Russian troops fighting on their territory imminent. And both analysts and the kyiv government itself agree that this decisive battle will be for crimeathe Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

But the Russians have also prepared. Over the past six months they have built an elaborate network of defenses, including fortifications in their southern rear Ukraine.

LOOK: Why the Wagner Group threatens to withdraw from Bakhmut and ensures that “Russia is on the brink of disaster”

CNN has confirmed that the Russians have built anti-tank ditches, trenches, blocked roads and filled fields with mines.

There are even the pre-made defense lines known as Dragon’s Teeth, which are pyramidal structures used since World War II.

“The defenses go for hundreds of kilometers along the meandering southern front, where the Ukrainian forces are expected to concentrate their counteroffensive”indicated CNN.

According to the American channel, the satellite images of Maxar Technologies, which were taken on Wednesday of last week, show extensive trenches east of the city of Polohyin the region of Zaporizhia. A Reuters image analysis also found thousands of Russian defensive positions over a wide area.

Russian defenses extend along a front of between 800 and 900 kilometers, from the city of Kherson to the northeast of Ukraine, according to the AFP agency.

Three rows of “dragon’s teeth” and trenches located east of Vasylivka, Zaporizhia, on March 4. (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies / CNN)

In addition, at this time Russia has on Ukrainian soil a huge number of soldiers and mercenaries from the Wagner Group.

“Although exhausted by their efforts, the Russian device will have a sufficient number of reserves of men to absorb the shock,” assured Philipe Gros and Vincent Tourret in a study by the Foundation for Strategic Research.

Although the release date of the counteroffensivethis Tuesday Andrei Marochko, representative of the authorities installed by Russia in the people’s republic of luhansksaid It would be this May 9when Russia celebrates the Victory Day over Nazi Germany.

Already on Friday of last week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov revealed that preparations for the Ukrainian counteroffensive had entered their final phase.

Before, the president Volodymyr Zelensky He acknowledged that kyiv was preparing the counteroffensive and gave some details. ”I think it will be a success. We can vacate our territory. The counteroffensive is very important. We need a win. I believe in our soldiers, ”he said in statements to various Scandinavian media.

Zelensky stressed that such a counterattack will include the liberation of Crimeabecause he thinks that since the beginning of the invasion “Russia has weakened a lot.”

The location of the Crimea.  (AFP).

The location of the Crimea. (AFP).

He added that the success of the counteroffensive will depend directly on Western weapons supplies and that they arrive quickly.

The battle of Crimea will mark the fate of the war

Several experts explained to the British newspaper The Sun what the counteroffensive of Ukraine.

The former American general Ben Hodgesretired British Army Brigadier Ben Barry and the former British colonel Hamish of Bretton-Gordon They analyzed what is coming in the war.

The general Hodges think that Ukraine will focus its efforts on recapturing Crimea. while the colonel Bretton’s compared a possible Ukrainian attack with the Operation Desert Stormwith his forces trying to push more than 300 kilometers behind the Russian defense line.

Meanwhile, the general Barry He said that the counteroffensive will be like a “big bang” to try to break the deadlock in the area, especially around the town of Bakhmut.

The general Hodges estimated that the offensive will be much more ambitious than winning the battle for Bakhmut.

“Ukraine could kill all Russian soldiers within 300 kilometers of Bakhmut, but that would not change the strategic situation.”said Hodges.

“The key is to win Crimea, that will be the decisive ground. Once Crimea is liberated, everything will be over, everything will change. Ukraine knows that it will never be safe if it does not take back Crimea.”Hodges pointed out.

Hodges He estimated that the offensive will focus on isolating the Crimean peninsula by cutting the land bridge from areas partially controlled by Russia in southern Ukraine. “kyiv will aim to break this land bridge and will use more precision weapons to hit targets and make the peninsula untenable territory for Russian forces,” he added.

The US military said that this operation will involve attacking Russian air bases, attacks on the Black Sea Fleet and target logistics and command centers deep in enemy territory in crimea.

“When it makes sense,” Hodges said they could “again” blow up the Crimean bridge, the iconic road erected by Vladimir Putin that was already bombed last October.

Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge linking Crimea with Russia after a truck exploded near Kerch on October 8, 2022. (AFP Photo)

Black smoke rises from a fire on the Kerch bridge linking Crimea with Russia, after a truck exploded near Kerch on October 8, 2022. (AFP Photo) (-/)

“I think Ukraine will choose one or two places to concentrate its attack on a narrow front a few kilometers wide and break through the front lines fortified using tanks, mechanized infantry, engineers, and artillery.explained Hodges.

“They will use their air force to help cover them and there will be activity in the Russian rear by special forces and partisans to prevent them from reacting to the attack,” Hodges continued.

the colonel of Bretton-Gordon he also predicted that the Ukrainians will be ambitious in their counter-attack, the key to that being their new arsenal of Western-delivered main battle tanks.

Bretton-Gordon He argued that Western armor will outperform the aging Soviet-era tank fleet currently used by Putin’s troops, drilling tank traps, trenches and barbed wire as was done with the so-called “Saddam Line” in the Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991.

The Sun recalled that Saddam Hussein’s fortifications were destroyed in a matter of hours by US forces using their M1 Abrams tanks, the same ones the Ukrainians will receive soon.

America's Abrams tank coming to Ukraine.  (AFP).

America’s Abrams tank coming to Ukraine. (AFP).

“Over four days we covered a couple hundred miles. Ukrainians probably they will want to go a little furtherbut not much else.” De Bretton-Gordon said.

The colonel Bretton Gordon argued that the key to the victory of Ukraine it will be to set up the logistics to maintain such an advance until it can get far enough away from the Russian lines to cause maximum devastation. “Now that they have tanks and artillery for hand-to-hand fighting, I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to succeed,” he predicted.

“Ukrainians are very cunning. I have been impressed with the way they operate,” she said.

Ben Barrysenior researcher for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that the “(armored) vehicles are already on the territory of Ukraine at the disposal of its army and they may be used in combat in the near future.”

While Samantha De Benderna security expert, said that there is reluctance about an attack on crimea: “Americans They press so that they do not attack the peninsula too much and they do not welcome the Ukrainian ideals of freeing crimea”.

In addition, she was skeptical of an imminent Ukrainian offensive, saying rather that it would only take place in the summer. She added that Ukrainian troops are now “busy defending Bakhmut.”

However, he said “that will change very soon” when the foreign-trained Ukrainian troops and their shiny new weapons arrive.

Russia’s defenses

Stephen Wood of Maxar Technologies told CNN that Russian defenses and fortifications are replicated in a large area of ​​Ukrainian territoryfrom crimea in the south to parts of Donetsk.

At the beginning of April, the head of government of crimea Russian appointee Sergey Aksyonov said that “our armed forces have built a modern and deeply echeloned defense,” CNN reported.

Russian defenses began to appear after Putin’s troops withdrew from part of the Kherson region in November and established a new defensive line that stretches across especially rural areas of southern Ukraine.

CNN also reported that the UK Ministry of Defense indicated in November that two factories were producing concrete obstacles for tanks, the so-called dragon’s teeth.

A Ukrainian serviceman stands in front of a 105mm howitzer near the town of Bakhmut, on March 8, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP).

A Ukrainian serviceman stands in front of a 105mm howitzer near the town of Bakhmut, on March 8, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP). (ARIS MESSINIS/)

The American chain also indicated that satellite images show that a large Russian base located in the north of crimea which in February was full of equipment such as artillery and tanks, was much emptier at the end of March and almost completely unoccupied last week. It is unknown where the team went, but it is likely that it was sent north to reinforce the Russian defensive lines.

Regarding a possible Russian counterattack to stop the Ukrainians and thus alter their plans, CNN indicated that the ability of Russian troops to make it happen effectively is in doubt, since elite forces such as paratroopers from Russia they suffered heavy losses early in the campaign, from which they have yet to recover.

“Despite the tactical adaptations we have seen from the Russians, we have yet to see them make an operational breakthrough during the 2023 offensives,” Mick Ryan, a former Australian general who writes the military strategy newsletter Future Doctrine, told CNN.

But analysts also point out that despite the modern weapons it has received Ukraine and those that are to come, Russian air superiority is still hugesomething that could be essential to neutralize the counteroffensive that kyiv is preparing.

Ryan told CNN that to avoid Ukrainian air defenses, the Russian air force is increasingly using “disengaging” weapons like the 1.5-tonne glide bombs that have recently been fired around Bakhmut.

“These not only increase the survivability of the plane from which it is launched, but they are also very difficult to intercept”Ryan pointed out.

The analysts’ conclusion is that despite the motivation of the Ukrainian soldiers, the weapons they receive, and despite the heavy losses for the Russians since the invasion began, Moscow retains vastly superior resources in this conflict.

Source: Elcomercio

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