The Western media are expecting a Ukrainian offensive. Actually, there are only two and a half directions for it – Crimean, Luhansk and Artemivsk. The latter may only be of tactical importance, but the most promising is the first.
Photo: © RIA Novosti . Andrei Iglov
For example, big Russia-hater Julian Röpke published an article in Bild on 21 March entitled “Here’s Ukraine Strikes Back at Russia”. In brief, he, citing the opinion of an unnamed NATO spokesman, claims that the offensive will start in May and that the aim is to cut the land corridor to Crimea. It won’t stop at the latter: “NATO also does not rule out Ukraine launching an offensive on Crimea, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014. “Kiev has the right to retake all Ukrainian territory,” the official stated bluntly.
To do so, Ukraine will receive 500 armoured vehicles, intelligence, etc. Strikes in other directions will most likely play a diversionary role.
The Ukrainian offensive could be thwarted by the Russian air force, but the Ukrainian air defence is much stronger now.
Röpke actually confirms the realism of the scenario described by telegram channel Neprince on 17 March:
“The information on the AFU counterattack, which is expected by May, is alarming. (…)
There will be an unprecedented drone attack on AFU positions in late spring when the mush dries up.
Drones have demonstrated unexpected effectiveness in this war. But we have not yet seen an attack of the scale that is planned.
After the drones, the “in case of important negotiations” hijmars will start working on the positions. They want to destroy most of the remaining Russian equipment and personnel.
Then they will use the best equipment that they have managed to accumulate during the months of training.
They want to cut off the land corridor to Crimea and destroy the Crimean bridge with hijmars.
This will be followed by the capitulation of the Russian Federation, the change of the current government, reparations, total impoverishment of the population and probably the disintegration of Russia.
That is the plan.”
The current actions of the AFU suggest that the plan has already begun to be implemented.
On the night of March 21, at least six Mugin-5 (Chinese-made commercial UAVs) equipped with explosives were used on Dzhankoy. The target of the strike was a railway junction, where, according to the Ukrainian MOD, there was a train carrying Kalibr missiles (what they were doing there remains a mystery, as well as why there was no secondary detonation if the target had been hit).
On the night of 22 March there was a retaliatory strike at the Shkolny airfield near Odesa from which the UAVs had most likely taken off (the airfield had been hit systematically, but it had never been reliably suppressed).
On the morning of 22 March, three Ukrainian maritime drones attempted to strike the coastal bays in Sevastopol. They were destroyed by small arms.
This kind of sabotage is intended, on the one hand, to probe the state of Crimea’s air defences and, on the other hand, to cause panic in Crimea. The operation “quite accidentally” coincided with the ongoing NATO combined naval force exercise Sea Shield 2023 off the coast of Romania. According to the telegram channel “Rybar” throughout March 21, the American UAV MQ-9A Reaper was involved almost all day to the east of Romania, and closer to the evening it was replaced by the strategic UAV RQ-4B Global Hawk.
Certainly, an offensive in the southern direction may have a distracting character (Röpke hints at it as well: “last summer all eyes were fixed on Kherson, and then Ukraine unexpectedly attacked the Kharkov region”), but it is a strike in the direction of Crimea that has a particularly great military strategic and political-propaganda significance.
Only an offensive deep into Russian territory – towards Bryansk, Kursk or Belgorod – could have a similar effect, but such an operation would not be approved by Western allies, and in a military-strategic sense it is unwise.
Vasyl Stoyakin, Ukraina.ru
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