WASHINGTON – Ukrainians have launched successful but limited counterattacks in Kiev in the east and northeast, prompting Western diplomats and the Free Army to expedite Russia’s retreat after it was made clear to Moscow that its forces could not capture the Ukrainian capital. Analysts.
The Russian retreat was real, these officials and analysts said, adding that Moscow’s initial strategy had failed during severe planning failures, logistics issues and fierce and effective Ukrainian resistance. But they warn that it will take a few days to confirm what Russian forces are doing.
After Pentagon and NATO officials initially raised doubts about the Russian withdrawal, new analyzes came in, arguing that this might be an opportunity to re-establish forces or to re-deploy troops in Belarus away from the Ukrainian offensive.
Frederick Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said the Ukrainian offensive, which began last week, appeared to have persuaded Russian commanders to change their strategy.
“Counter-attacks probably prompted Russia’s decision to abandon Kiev,” he said. Kagan said. “Counter-attacks proved that the Russians could not really hold the positions they had occupied anyway, so they decided to retreat in a better way than retreat.
The series of airstrikes and missile strikes on Kiev and Chernivtsi could be aimed at covering up Russia’s retreat and putting pressure on the Ukrainian government, rather than renewed attacks on Kiev or other cities in the region, analysts say.
Janes, an independent security intelligence agency, announced that several Russian units had moved out of Kiev and into Belarus. Janes said the Ukrainian counterattack had successfully reopened a road to Sumi and divided one of the Russian fronts.
While it is difficult to say what Russia’s transformation strategy will be, when a European diplomat speaks anonymously to discuss honest intelligence estimates, early signs include expanding the size of the territory it occupies in eastern Ukraine in its new, narrower goals. And coordinate control over the southeastern Ukrainian coast between Donetsk and Crimea, including the besieged city of Mariupol.
While officials and analysts expect Russia to move troops to eastern Ukraine, not all troops retreating from Kyiv are likely to be re-deployed there, Mr. Kagan said. Many of the forces that had gathered to attack the capital were inexperienced, poorly organized, and incompetent in battle.
“The forces around Kiev are often useless in combat, and we do not expect those forces to return with significant combat force in the east at any time,” he said.
Instead, sections of the first guard tank army, the most experienced and badly damaged unit, will be moved from near Kharkiv and then used in the fight against the Ukrainian army in Donetsk. Kagan said.
According to diplomats and analysts, Russian forces now appear to be pursuing a strategy of encircling Ukrainian positions in the east of the country. So far the Ukrainians have successfully opened their supply lines, and the European ambassador said that Russia’s withdrawal from Kiev could allow Ukraine to strengthen its units in the east.
Russia’s siege strategy could face significant problems. To implement it, Russian commanders must extend their supply lines and reduce the already thin line, making it difficult to protect those supply lines from Ukrainian aggression.
“The bigger the force around you, the more forces will be needed to do it,” he said. Kagan said. “It will be very complicated. Currently, the Russian infiltration is very thin. The Russian lines are also very long. We have already seen that picture. They tried to supply a long time from Sumi to Kiev, which ended in tears for the Russians.
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