“Without exaggeration, we can talk about the collapse of Russia’s position in the Kharkov region,” says analyst Smetana

Over the weekend, shocking news began to arrive from the Eastern Front of Ukraine about the active and sovereign advance of Ukrainian forces in the wider city of Kharkov. Over time, it became increasingly clear that these were not the results of an information war, with the Ukrainian side inflicting a severe blow on Russia and shaking the confidence of Russian military and political leaders. What major changes have recently occurred on the Donbass battlefield? Is there a major turning point in the Russian-Ukrainian war? And what measures can we expect from the Russian and Ukrainian sides? , asked Michal Smetana of the Security Studies Department at the FSV UK Institute of Political Science. He leads the University’s Center of Excellence Prague Peace Research Center (PRCP) and the Experimental Institute for International Security Studies (ELISS) research group. .

In recent days, we have received very shocking news from the Eastern Front of Ukraine about the rapid advance of the Ukrainian army. How important is this event?

For Ukraine, this is arguably the biggest military success since the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kyiv in April. It’s important on several levels. The now virtually completely liberated Kharkov region has become an important backdrop for Russia’s offensive operations in Donbass. Now, instead of trying to capture Bakhmut, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and other Donetsk cities, the Russian army should try to establish new defensive lines further east. The Ukrainian military now holds the initiative on the battlefield, but Russia will hardly be able to regain this initiative without significantly strengthening its military presence in eastern Ukraine.

This is a major failure of either the Russian secret service or the Russian command when it clearly fails to register or correctly assess Ukraine’s readiness for an attack in the Kharkov area.

In its lightning offensive, Ukraine has also demonstrated its ability to effectively use Western technology in complex military operations, long questioned by Western pundits. In a matter of days, she was able to recapture more territory than Russia had in the past few months. In other words, that successful procedure has likely secured additional political support for the further supply of Western weapons systems, ammunition, and military equipment. east and south of the country.

A week ago there was talk of a thrilling offensive taking place around Kherson. How is the current situation different? And how are these two events related?

It makes the most sense to see Kherson and Kharkov as two simultaneous counterattacks that Ukraine can tolerate given its military superiority. However, the dynamics of both these areas are related. Russia’s decision to move some of its troops from eastern Ukraine to the defense of the occupied Kherson region significantly slowed the Ukrainian advance in the south, but allowed Kyiv to launch an unprecedentedly successful offensive in the east. It also opened a space to start. The Kremlin faces a similar dilemma today. Russia can move some of its troops from the south to defend the east, but that jeopardizes the possibility of a Ukrainian breakthrough on the southern front.

Cities such as Izzum, Kupyansk, and Raiman are leaning. what is their importance?

Russian forces fought for the city of Izdum for almost a month in the spring and, after its capture, sought to use it as the main base for operations in Donbass from the north. Ukrainian forces were able to successfully block the advance of Russian troops southeast from Izzum, but as a result, of course, a large number of high-quality Ukrainian forces were detained in the region, which can now be deployed elsewhere. It became so. Kupyansk is an important railway junction that Russia used to supply its armed forces. Lyman was a fictional gateway for a future Russian offensive against Slovyansk, which Russian forces planned to occupy as part of their efforts to capture Donetsk province within the administrative border.

There are speculations that the entire Russian front in Donbass has collapsed. Are things really that serious? Can you describe what happened at the scene?

It is no exaggeration to say that Russia’s position in the Kharkov region has completely collapsed. However, the development of Donbass remains dynamic, and although it is still too early to talk about the complete collapse of Russia, it cannot be ruled out in the future. Information appeared on Twitter that either could not be verified or turned out to be completely hoaxed. It has advanced to a part of Luhansk Province, and fighting has been confirmed in the village of Bilohorivka.

Social networks and news servers were flooded with images of captured Russian equipment and ammunition. Did the attack really take the Russian side by surprise and they didn’t have time to move or dispose of these things?

This is a major failure of either the Russian secret service or the Russian command, as it clearly failed to register or correctly assess the Ukrainian readiness for an attack in the Kharkov region, and the Ukrainian military took advantage of the moment I was able to do. Surprise. In contrast to the spring’s relatively well-coordinated withdrawal from Kyiv, it saw a much more chaotic dash in which Russian forces tried among other things to avoid encirclement. Still, in addition to the seizure of military equipment and ammunition, it is very likely that a significant number of soldiers who were fighting on the Russian side were captured, although details regarding the specific numbers are not yet known.

What kind of reaction do you expect from the Russian Federation? What can Putin and his army do now?

Basically, there aren’t that many options. Russian forces in the region may not be in a position to attempt a tactically demanding siege operation. Russia will likely consolidate its own forces and establish a defensive line further east through which it will try to block the advance of Ukraine.

Russia’s further progress will largely depend on its political leadership. The Kremlin is still offered the option to reframe “special military operations” as war and declare at least partial mobilization. It should be noted that it is properly represented on the battlefield rather than in months. Without the necessary training and guidance, the effectiveness of newly recruited conscripts and reservists is very low. In addition, there are many practical problems associated with the movement itself, such as the lack of officers to train and guide the called-up reservists, as well as the lack of equipment and necessary logistics.

The Kremlin may also be looking to escalate further. towards the West by limiting energy supplies, towards Ukraine through missile strikes against critical infrastructure and civilian targets. But these measures have little impact on the decision to liberate the occupied southern and eastern parts of Ukraine by force. If Ukraine’s success continues and the threat of attack on Russia-annexed Crimea continues, other nuclear threats may also come to the fore.in a recent article in box spot I think the basic premise still applies.

How long can the Ukrainians deploy such a highly demanding military operation? Wasn’t it just an isolated explosion? Is it realistic to expect in the future?

At this point, Ukraine probably has the ability to effectively launch two counterattacks simultaneously. Although progress in the Kherson region has been rather slow, Ukraine has also had partial success here and is likely to see some interesting developments in the coming weeks, especially regarding Russia’s presence on the west bank of the Dnieper. Ukraine is now trying to maximize its territorial gains, and even if its progress stalls in the coming weeks, it will be strategically much better positioned than it was a few weeks ago. Until then, it’s too early to make bigger predictions. In any case, it remains true that war is just a continuation of politics by other means, and it is primarily the Kremlin that faces the dilemma of how to deal with current developments. Pressure from the nationalist camp for a strong response has certainly increased, leaving Russia’s leaders with little choice.

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