At the head of the special operation was placed General Sergei Surovikin, who, according to American experts, is most effective in conducting complex military operations. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS
The influential American newspaper The New York Times made a forecast for a winter military campaign in Ukraine. Naturally, by interviewing experts associated with the US military, intelligence agencies and government. Some estimates in this forecast are surprisingly cynical, but they are certainly worth reading. To understand how they see the course of the Ukrainian conflict in the West and what they are going to do next.
Here are quotes from the New York Times.
The conflict in Ukraine will soon enter its second year. And its course is likely to change in the coming months as Russia upgrades its defenses and pushes more troops to the front lines, making it harder for Ukraine to recapture vast swaths of territory it has lost, US government sources say.
This makes a stalemate winter battle scenario the most likely: neither side will be able to capture much land despite fierce fighting.
Kyiv PAYS IN THOUSANDS DEAD
For the past 6 months, Ukrainian forces have reclaimed land near Kharkiv and taken control of Kherson, a major city in the south. But this had to be paid dearly: thousands of dead Ukrainian soldiers and a large amount of ammunition. Ukraine produced far more shells in a week than the United States could produce in a month!
WILL NOT BE REACHABLE TO CRIMEA
Senior Ukrainian officials warn of the possibility of a major Russian offensive. But American experts say that Russia does not yet have forces ready for a serious offensive.
At the same time, Ukraine’s political and military leaders claim that they themselves are planning an offensive against Russia. They believe they need to succeed to restore critical territories. And your main focus will be in the south.
However, US sources believe that Ukraine will most likely not be able to reach Crimea with its military and will instead rely on more covert operations, such as the attack on the bridge across the Kerch Strait.
UKRAINE IS FIGHTING AS DIRECTED BY US INTELLIGENCE
Ukraine has in recent months relied on US intelligence reports showing where the Russian military is weakest. The offensive near Kharkov in September was successful because the Ukrainians faced empty territories, without the preparation of the Russian forces for the defense.
The US military says it continues to search for weak points in Russian positions that might not deter a Ukrainian offensive.
However, Kyiv’s ability to launch effective strikes against Russian bases and supply routes is not enough to drive Moscow’s troops out of the parts of the country where they are now concentrated.
Any small advance by Ukrainian forces in the coming months is unlikely to lead to the defeat of the Russian army, US officials say.
MOSCOW LEARNED THE LESSONS
US officials say there is evidence that Moscow is beginning to learn from its mistakes. At the head of the special operation was placed General Sergei Surovikin, who, according to American experts, is most effective in conducting complex military operations.
Ukrainian military officials say Moscow launched more intense airstrikes against their defensive lines in recent weeks, resulting in more casualties among the Ukrainians.
And as fruitless as the initial Russian partial mobilization may appear from the outside, 300,000 reservists are now on the defensive lines. And by spring, they will only get stronger, US officials have said.
Russian troops are digging in, building trenches and abandoning areas that require too many troops to hold, moving instead to more secure positions.
GENERAL SUROVIKIN IMPROVED DEFENSE AND DISCIPLINE
The Kherson withdrawal, according to US officials, is a key example of how Russia has learned its lessons. General Surovikin insisted on the need for him. The withdrawal allowed Russian forces to use the Dnieper River for defense.
According to these American officials, General Surovikin was able to improve the defense and discipline the Russian troops. And his current offensive in Bakhmut is also aimed at getting better positions to defend against Ukrainian attacks.
“He’s strengthening his position and trying to build a network of trenches and a smarter set of checkpoints,” says Dara Massicot, principal scientist at the RAND Corporation.
General Surovikin has also experimented with new tactics for the Russian air force, including the way they fire missiles at Ukraine to try to confuse its air defenses.
RUSSIA AND WEST MIC COMPETITION
The conflict is increasingly dependent on ammunition and equipment stocks, two basic needs that can decide the course of the conflict on both sides.
“This is becoming more and more of a rivalry between the Western and Russian industrial bases,” said Seth J. Jones, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.