regular-article-logo Monday, 05 June 2023

Ukraine signals it will stay on the offensive

Kyiv has no desire to stop war despite talk of a lull

Carlotta Gall New York Published 13.11.22, 12:15 AM
Soldiers in southern Ukraine.

Soldiers in southern Ukraine. NYTNS

As jubilant Ukrainian troops hoist their national flag over Kherson after a comprehensive Russian retreat, they give no sign of stopping their offensives for the winter, or allowing the war to settle into a stalemate.

In the east, Ukrainian forces continue to grind forward and have repelled repeated Russian efforts to seize towns like Bakhmut and Pavlivka, reportedly killing hundreds of Russian soldiers. In the south, they are striking deep behind Russian lines, hitting Moscow’s troops before they can settle and build defences on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river, across from Kherson.


And there are growing hints from troops on the ground, and volunteers close to them, that the Ukrainians are preparing for a new land offensive between those two fronts, south through the Zaporizhzhia region toward Melitopol, challenging Russia’s hold on the entire southern area that it seized in the invasion that began in February.

“The logic of war is not to pause and somehow continue to move forward,” said Senior Lieutenant Andriy Mikheichenko, a commander of an anti-tank unit defending the embattled town of Bakhmut, in the eastern Donbas region. “I think there will be counterattacks in other directions so that the enemy does not have time to transfer reserves and block strikes.”

Many analysts and diplomats have talked about the war entering a period of stasis during the cold of winter, with both militaries needing to rebuild. Some leaders — most notably, General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, on Thursday — have suggested that a lull in fighting would be a good time for talks.

But the government in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, has been adamant that a stalemate would simply cement Russiangains, suggesting that, even if conditions force Ukraine to slow its offensives, it does not plan to stop them.

There has been a chorus of conflicting predictions by military analysts and others, inside and outside Ukraine, about what to expect next,and Ukrainian soldiers often delight in the military command’s ability to obscure its intentions and keep everyone guessing.

The drawing of a new frontline at the southern reaches of the Dnipro, with the two sides controlling opposite banks, will essentially bring a halt on the Kherson front, military analysts said. The river’s immense width and further damage to the main AntonivksyBridge by departing Russian troops make it extremely difficult and risky for Ukrainian troops to try to pursue the retreating Russian forces across the water.

New York Times News Service

Follow us on: