Here’s What’s At Stake In Ukraine’s Counter-offensive

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Ukraine’s long awaited counteroffensive is finally in full swing according to Ukrainian authorities, the Wall Street Journal reports. The current frontline extends from the mouth of the Dnipr river to North of Bakhmut, where recent Russian offensives have seen dramatic casualties on both sides.

The first phase of the conflict opened in February 2022, showing dramatic Russian pushes with light troops into all of Eastern and Northern Ukraine. By April, Russia was forced to pull back from the North due to an overwhelming militia force defending Kyiv. For the next year, Russia progressively gained ground in Southern Ukraine, linking the previously annexed province of Crimea with the Donbas and Luhansk separatist areas in a “land bridge.”

In the meantime, Ukraine has been thoroughly reorganizing its units and acquiring new military equipment donated from NATO nations, chief among them the United States. In Ukraine’s opening counteroffensive, Russia destroyed a dam to flood the Dnipr river and slow down Ukraine’s advance. Its defensive positions, while not enough to stop Ukrainians, might buy it time to maneuver its reserves to stop Ukraine’s advance, as historian Edward Luttwak points out:

If Ukraine manages to successfully cut this land bridge by reaching the Sea of Azov, the Russian occupation of Ukraine will be severely weakened, essentially relegating it to the pre-invasion borders. At this point, Ukraine might be able to fully push back Russians from the East and maybe even Crimea. How this will affect Putin and Russian’s calculus remains to be seen, as Luttwak points out:

Ukraine’s counteroffensive as long been marketed in the West as the final push that will end the war. The financial and military investments made by NATO countries are substantial, some of them threatening their own military’s readiness by stripping essential gear from domestic frontline units. Should Ukraine fail to make significant gains, it could cause domestic opinion in America to push for a forced peace treaty, leaving Russia in control of vast swaths of Ukraine.


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