ISW explained the "slow" pace of AFU counteroffensive operations: the troops have a "number one" task. Map
Through a "slow" counteroffensive against the Russian occupying forces, Ukrainian forces have focused on creating an "asymmetric depletion gradient" that keeps the personnel of the Defense Forces engaged. In doing so, the fighters are carrying out their main task of destroying Russian troops and their equipment.
This was stated in a summary of the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) for July 4. They noted that the actions of the Ukrainian army were explained by the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, according to whom the Ukrainian forces are currently engaged in the elimination of the occupiers, equipment, fuel depots, artillery and air defense facilities. He stressed that "a war of annihilation equals a war of kilometers".
Danilov's assessment emphasizes the priority of Ukraine's ongoing campaign to deplete the enemy's army and assets, rather than attempting large-scale mechanized maneuvers to quickly retake large stretches of territory.
That said, as ISW noted, NATO Military Committee Chairman Admiral Rob Bauer said on July 3 that Ukrainian forces were right to proceed cautiously and avoid heavy casualties during the counteroffensive, and acknowledged that the operation was complicated by landmines and other obstacles up to 30 kilometers deep into Russian-occupied territory.
At the same time, since the start of the counteroffensive in early June, the Defense Forces have liberated territory in several sections of the front. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Maliar reported July 3 that over the past week Ukrainian forces have liberated a total of 37.4 square kilometers in eastern and southern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces continue a steady, gradual offensive.
Analysts stressed that the current pace of Ukrainian operations is not indicative of a stalemate or that our army cannot repel large areas. The experts reasoned that between August and November 2022, Ukrainian forces conducted slow and gradual operations to block Russian concentration areas on the left bank of the Kherson region and limited ground attacks on the right bank before liberating parts of the region in mid-November.
ISW agreed that the situation in southern Ukraine was different, but nevertheless the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson alternated phases of a relatively rapid offensive with lengthy periods of preparation, combat operations designed to exhaust Russian forces and limited successes that ultimately made Russian positions on the west bank untenable.
"The current Ukrainian counteroffensive is less dramatic and faster than the one that lead to liberation much of the Kharkov region, more successful than the failed Russian winter offensive, and overall more similar to the slower but ultimately successful Kherson counteroffensive in its tempo and initial progress," analysts concluded.
As OBOZREVATEL reported:
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the AFU is advancing very clearly. He noted that the Ukrainian counterattack was planned clearly and correctly, and he himself "did not expect such successes."
- British Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Tony Radakin stated that now the Ukrainian military is making great efforts to "exhaust the Russian servicemen" and weaken the enemy defenses in the counterattack. The AFU is aimed at overcoming the defenses of the Russian occupation forces.