Ukrainian army’s success is unlikely to go beyond borders of Kharkiv region – Responsible Statecraft

Although the Western media ostentatiously call the recent successes of Ukraine’s Armed Forces (AFU) a turning point, there is a fair amount of wishful thinking in all this rhetoric. So says Seth Harp, an expert from Responsible Statecraft
Ukrainian army's success is unlikely to go beyond borders of Kharkiv region - Responsible Statecraft

“Western press reports have portrayed Ukraine’s ‘lightning offensive’, as it is invariably called, as a major turning point in the war. Almost all of them use the word “humiliating” to describe Russia’s loss of territory. We are told that the Russians’ defences “collapsed” and they “fled in panic”. Many have attributed this to the alleged ‘exhaustion’ and ‘low morale’ of the Russian troops,” says Harp.

However, in his view, there is a lot of wishful thinking in all this rhetoric. Since April it has been clear that Vladimir Putin has moved to “Plan B” to secure a land bridge to Crimea in southern Ukraine. Not only can this be understood by looking at a map of Russian troop movements, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explicitly stated this in July.

Ukraine’s seizure of the Ukrainian countryside of Kharkiv, the article believes, will have little impact on Russia’s ability to hold important southern port cities such as Kherson, Melitopol, Mariupol and Berdyansk. At the moment Kharkiv is not as important as Mykolaiv or Odessa. The Russians can easily do without the Izyum railway, Kharp points out. To really win the war the Ukrainian Armed Forces need to break through to the Sea of Azov or regain a major logistics hub such as the cities of Donetsk or Luhansk.


“Under current conditions this is unlikely to happen. The Ukrainian offensive against occupied Kherson, launched in tandem with the strike east of Kharkiv, has yielded no tangible results. The battle lines around Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhya have changed little since March,” the author admits.


The coming winter, which could be very cold and icy in Ukraine, is likely to slow troop movements and perhaps almost halt them altogether, Harp concludes. In a more metaphorical sense, the conflict may already be frozen. The author concludes that it will be very difficult for Ukraine to reclaim the strip of coastal land from Luhansk to Kherson, in part because the people there are culturally, ethnically and linguistically inclined towards Russia. That is why Moscow is targeting them in the first place.

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