Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered Ukraine’s military to retake coastal areas in the south that are vital to Ukraine's economy. For this purpose, Ukraine is planning assemble a million-strong force equipped with western-supplied weapons. In advance of the projected Ukrainian offensive, Reznikov asked the West to expedite weapons deliveries.
Two retired senior officers Konstantin Sivkov and Colonel Viktor Baranets were dismissive of the announcement by Ukraine. Sivkov called it suicidal, while Baranets believed that Ukraine was scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of recruitment and even with Western weapons could not match Russia's superior firepower. In contrast, the blogger Anatoly Nesmiyan took an agnostic attitude and claimed that it was rich for the Russian military establishment to ridicule Ukraine after it had failed to develop a coherent military policy during four months of fighting.
Russian reactions to Reznikov's declaration follow below:
Konstantin Sivkov: Zelensky's Order Is Suicidal
Military expert Konstantin Sivkov, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences predicted that the Ukrainian counterattack would prove suicidal for the Ukrainian armed forces as Ukraine lacked the resources for a counterattack
Sivkov didn't believe the announcement was a bluff and attempts would be made to implement Zelensky's order, but these attempts would incur serious losses of personnel and operational combat equipment.
Sivkov believed that the real reason behind the offensive was not expectation of victory but a desire to pressure the West to supply Ukraine with qualitative arms. "The USA and Europe are supplying Ukraine with ever more serious weaponry, because they see that the Ukrainian army is losing."
Konstantin Sivkov (Source: Zvezdaweekly.com)
Viktor Baranets: First Time In Military History That One Side Publicly Announces Its Mobilization And Attack Plans
Komsomolskaya Pravda ran the following interview with Colonel Viktor Baranets, who, while warning that one should never disrespect the enemy, belied this warning by describing the caliber of Ukrainian troops and their fighting spirit:
News flash: Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced officially, in an interview to British journalists, Vladimir Zelensky’s order to 'retake the south” in the coming weeks or months. More specifically, the Pryazovske lands, i.e. the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, which are now under Russian army control.
"More than once the politicians and generals in Kyiv proudly announced a certain forthcoming 'counterattack' to be launched in the very same, southern direction, and even specified a timeframe of 'early or mid-August.' This is, perhaps, the first case in the history of military art that the party undertaking a 'strategic' battle reveals the date and battle zone a month in advance. Furthermore, probably every Kyiv schoolboy or janitor already know that the Ukrainian General Staff is developing a plan of attack, while simultaneously conducting a mobilization of unprecedented magnitude. In the recruitment it’s planned to conscript and supply up to 1 million soldiers (700 thousand servicemen for the army and another 300 thousand - for the National Guard of Ukraine, police and border guards).
"All these military preparations raise many questions. Let’s try to answer them.
"1. Is Kyiv up to assembling a million-strong army in the time remaining before the announced offensive?
"Yes, it’s quite possible. Let’s do the math. Already now the number of Ukrainian servicemen is rapidly approaching the announced 700 thousand men. But only about 100-150 thousand of them are people who served in the army before the launch of the special military operation [hereafter - SVO]. (It should be clarified in this regard that the Ukrainian army back then numbered 250 thousand soldiers, but about 100-150 thousand are out of service. Of these, 50-60 thousand are irretrievable losses, i.e. individuals killed, or seriously wounded).
"Ukraine was able to scrape together about half a million additional recruits during three mobilizations. Each of them was fulfilled only by 50-60%. ‘Khopltsy’ [Ukrainian 'the lads'] and older men fled the country by the thousands under the guise of refugees. And now the Kyiv authorities are threatening them with the Criminal Code and demanding their return. And, in order to prevent the rest of these [potential recruits] from fleeing the country, the Ukrainian general staff issued a menacing directive prohibiting men from leaving not only their country, but also their region (at least it wasn’t forbidden for them to leave their homes!). People were outraged by this 'serfdom' and had a go at Zelensky.
"He, in turn, immediately blamed everything on the military, reprimanded Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi and demanded that 'the stupid directive be changed.'
"As a result, the new mobilization is creaking: even the disabled, people partially fit for army service, and even hardened criminals, released from prison, are being put 'under the gun.' [Russian expression, meaning 'to be conscripted'].
"Young people are being caught at beaches and in churches. They are immediately taken to the draft board, or shove the army call-up in their faces for signatures. Those who evade army call are being brought to the military enlistment office in handcuffs.
"The new Ukrainian army ends up recruiting a motley mix of yesterday’s students and drivers, hairdressers and cooks, plasterers and stable boys, plumbers and teachers. Ukrainian generals use this 'meat' (as they call themselves) to plug holes at the front. And hapless Ukrainian soldiers, taken captive report on the low morale of their fellow servicemen, who often surrender in platoons, companies, and even battalions.
"2. Why does Kyiv plans to launch its counteroffensive in August?
"There are several reasons for this.
"First, by that time the next mobilization should be over.
"Second, the West promises to supply Kyiv with all the promised arms 'packages' by that date. Ukraine is already accumulating a large part of them at the southern direction.
"Third, thousands of Ukrainian officers and sergeants are due to return from abroad in August. Now, they are taught in NATO member-states how to operate foreign military equipment.
"Fourth, by August another campaign to recruit new ‘legions’ of foreign mercenaries (this work is done by Ukrainian embassies abroad) should be over.
"There is yet another reason. During Biden’s recent secret meeting with NATO leaders, a new plan to provide Kyiv with military and technical support during the Ukrainian offensive was drawn up.
"3. Why the South?
"Because at this front the Russian army, along with allied DPR troops, controls nearly 20% of former Ukrainian territory. Moreover, it is the region adjacent to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. This is a strategic loss for Kyiv. It thirsts for revenge, as it may lose access to the sea forever and [consequently] sustain colossal future economic losses, and at the same time lose its strategically advantageous position in the ‘Priazovie’ [the Azov Sea region] (and, in the future, in the ‘Prichernomorie’ [the Black Sea region] as well).
"In preparing an offensive to the South, Kyiv will try not only to regain the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, but also to defend itself from the advance of Russian troops to Mykolaiv and Odessa and from the prospect of a link-up between the Russian-controlled territories of Ukraine and Transnistria.
"4. Can we withstand the onslaught of an armada armed by the West?
"First, Kyiv’s promises to assemble an army of millions are way too exuberant. Provided it succeeds, the army will objectively be 'splattered' all over Ukraine, because some troops have to cover Kyiv and Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv. They won’t be left ‘naked,’ [undefended] after all. Consequently, at least a quarter of the 'million-strong' army will be left to guard these cities.
"Second. Today, nearly 70,000 Ukrainian troops are preparing to defend cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. A general battle will soon be fought there. It seems that even the most foolhardy Ukrainian generals realize that their army cannot withstand a war on two or three fronts. Even though it’s packed to the rafters with 'Javelins' and 'Himars,' 'M-777' howitzers and 'Bayraktars' [UAVs].
"In addition, we have to consider that majority servicemen of this 'million-strong' army are not professional soldiers, but amateurs forcefully driven into the trenches, many of whom don’t want to fight at all. Well, a few dozen long-range USA-made guns and missile systems are unlikely to play a decisive role at a front that stretches over hundreds of kilometers. But let’s not make overconfident forecasts, either. Whatever the enemy might be, he must be respected.
"Who opposes the Ukrainian forces in Donbass today? There are four army groupings, already thoroughly battle tested, which are numerically inferior to the enemy in numbers (but not in professionalism of personnel). But, they nevertheless possess absolute firepower superiority over the Ukrainian forces (as experts say, 'there are 10-20 Russian artillery barrels per one Ukrainian artillery barrel').
"In addition, Russian aviation maintains 90% air superiority [in Ukraine’s skies]. As for the naval balance of power, the Ukrainian Navy was almost entirely defeated at the beginning of the operation.
"Our Black Sea Fleet. despite suffering a serious loss in the form of the 'Moskva' cruiser and two other ships, still possesses enormous striking power. It will undoubtedly be put to full use, provided the Ukrainian generals decide to 'take back the southern lands.'
"5. Will they attack Crimea?
"Well, let them try to reach Crimea first, [as the only way lies] through the Kherson and Zaporozhia oblasts. Most importantly, Crimea is one of the most protected Russian territories in the air, land and sea. A self-sufficient group of 30,000 diverse forces will 'knock the teeth out' of any enemy. There is no need to visit a witch for ‘palm reading’ [a Russian expression meaning that the narrator is confident in his assertions].
"This 'Crimean grouping' and the ships, submarines, aircraft, air defense and coastal defense of the Black Sea Fleet, will also have their say, provided the adventurers in Kyiv launch the promised 'counterattack' in August."
Viktor Baranets (Source: Ru.armeniasputnik.am)
Anatoly Nesmiyan: 'The Preconditions For A Ukrainian Counterattack Have Already Developed
The noted blogger Anatoly Nesmiyan (a.k.a. "El-Murid), who since the Russian intervention in Syria has acquired a reputation for military analysis was not as confident as Sivkov and Baranets. Based on the fighting up to now it was foolhardy to disparage the Ukrainians in advance. He wrote:
"Yesterday, the Ukrainian authorities, in particular the Minister of Defense and a several others, made statements, the general sense of which was that the President Zelenskyy ordered to launch a 'de-occupation' of southern Ukraine....
"Russian propaganda immediately reacted and reported that it was all nonsense and a psychological trick. It was argued that regular military plans are not announced out loud. The situation with military plans in Russia is more conventional, four months of combat operations have passed, but no one really knows what their goal is. In the end, what they say was the goal, that will be that goal.
"On the other hand, objectively speaking, the preconditions for a possible counterattack, and specifically in the southern front, have already developed. The Russian army is now forced to take a break after 2 months of heavy fighting at the first line of defense in Donbass. In the future it will face the equally difficult Kramatorsk agglomeration, a heavily built-up area.
"In turn, the Ukraine’s south is a flat steppe.
"This causes problems for both defender and attacker. The latter is vulnerable to attacks from the air. However, it’s also impossible to defend the wide steppe lands. In fact, all those who fought in this territory passed through it in a fairly short period of time. Nowhere is it possible to entrench.
"Thus, one shouldn’t take lightly the possible strengthening of Ukrainian Armed Force offensive actions in the south. For Kyiv, this would provide an opportunity to prove that Ukraine can not only obstinately defend itself (there not many doubts left on that score), but also to attack. Even a small success by the offensive, especially if it will coincide with significant media successes, will strengthen the position of European ‘hawks,’ primarily of Great Britain.
"This will inevitably facilitate new supplies of equipment, ammunition, and assets. In this regard it’s certainly, a wrong move to declare a counteroffensive plan nonsense without scrutinizing it."